Diversity Plaza featured in Voices of NY!
Pedestrian Plaza Brings Together Diversity of Queens
July 2, 2013 3:22 pm
By Zaira Cortés | Via EL DIARIO LA PRENSA
Translated by Emily Leavitt from SPANISH
Although small business owners initially opposed the Diversity Plaza project in Jackson Heights, Queens, the site has been transformed into a community center and open-air gallery for local artists.
A considerable number of residents and merchants objected to the idea of Diversity Plaza back in 2011, but it later became an important neighborhood hub. Last month, Community Board 3 held its monthly public hearing there at the mercy of the bustling crowds along 73rd and 74th streets. According to residents, at least 200 people attended.
The Híbridos Collective recently organized the first in a series of art festivals, as well as free art and music workshops. The collective’s members hope the events will show the neighborhood’s diversity.
Beatriz Gil is part of the group and said the festival is part of a broader effort to nurture collaboration between artists and local merchants. Through art, they seek to increase foot traffic in order to stimulate economic activity and offer visitors a vision of the cultural possibilities that Jackson Heights offers.
“The plaza allows us to spread art and raise awareness of the social problems affecting our community,” said Gil. “At the same time, the neighborhood benefits from the economic activity that an art festival brings.”
“Residents and pedestrians were delighted to participate in an outdoor hearing. It was more accessible to the public,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm. “Diversity Plaza is becoming a cultural and economic motor for our neighborhood. It strengthens coexistence between the different members of the community.”
Ernesto Curry, vice president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens, mentioned that Latino merchants in Jackson Heights could benefit from the dynamic energy that Diversity Plaza brings to the neighborhood.
“Activities which draw hundreds of people to the plaza will create better selling opportunities for small businesses,” said Curry, a Roosevelt Avenue business owner.