This Wednesday at 4 p.m., the strip of Bergenline Avenue between 30th and 31st streets will officially be renamed the Union City Plaza of the Arts at a dedication ceremony held by Mayor Brian Stack and the Board of Commissioners. The plaza, in the works since last July, is envisioned as a space for artists in the community to congregate, showcase their art, and sell their wares.
The public unveiling Wednesday will consist of a ceremony with several guest speakers, a ribbon cutting, unveiling of the plaque, live music by the Alonquin Band, and refreshments.
The Union City Plaza Arts will be a place for local artists to congregate and sell their wares.
Painting the picture
The area, which used to be an overpass, has undergone major renovation in the last few months.
According to Commissioner of Public Affairs Lucio Fernandez, the city doubled the length of the sidewalk by extending it on both sides and then overlaid it with StampStone, a coating system that looks like real stone. New lighting, large planters, and benches were also added to each side of the street, he said.
Raw iron arches with the new name, “Union City Plaza of the Arts,” have been placed at the entrance.
For the artists
According to Fernandez, many artists approached the city requesting a permanent open space to set up their wares and paint on a regular basis.
Stack and the board, he said, thought it was a great idea and gave the green light for construction to commence on the strip of Bergenline between 30th and 31st streets.
“[This space] will give local artists a place to showcase their art in the street and would also be a nice place to see the New York skyline,” said Fernandez.
The Plaza of the Arts was paid for by leftover money from the Firefighter’s Memorial Park located at Ninth Street and Palisade Avenue, which opened in early August. The $6 million dollar park includes an Olympic-sized competition pool with handicapped access, a children’s wading facility, and a firefighting-themed sprinkler playground.
Fine arts, literature, and music come together
The location for the Plaza of the Arts, according to Fernandez, was chosen for many reasons.
First, said Fernandez, there is a lot of traffic in and out of New York City on both sides. The Mayor and the board felt the area would showcase the city in the best light possible.
Second, he noted that the spot chosen used to be the dividing line between the former West Hoboken and Union Hill before they joined to become Union City 85 years ago, so it has historical significance.
Last, he pointed out that 31st Street is the home of the Celia Cruz Plaza, a park dedicated in 2004 to the late Cuban-American salsa singer, and the Pietro Di Donato Plaza, dedicated this year in honor of the late novelist and screenwriter.
With the Union City Plaza of the Arts, he said, fine arts will be represented alongside literature and music.
Deanna Cullen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.