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MAYOR GIULIANI AND PARKS COMMISSIONER HENRY STERN UNVEIL STATUE OF THE GODDESS ATHENA AT ATHENS SQUARE PARK
-- STATUE A GIFT FROM CITY OF ATHENS, GREECE TO NEW YORK CITY --
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Parks Commissioner Henry Stern today joined Mayor of Athens Demetri Avramopoulos in unveiling a statue of the Goddess Athena at Athens Square Park in Queens. The bronze statue of the ancient Greek Goddess of Wisdom, Patroness of the Arts and Protectoress of Athens is a gift from the City of Athens to the City of New York.
Also joining the Mayor at today's event were City Council Speaker Peter Vallone and Dennis Syntilas, President of Athens Square, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the culture and heritage of Greece in the City. "It is wonderful to be here in Athens Square Park today, during Greek Independence Week, to unveil this beautiful sculpture of the Goddess Athena - a replica of the "Piraeus Athena" that stands in Athens," Mayor Giuliani said. "And it is a special honor to have the Mayor of Athens, Demetri Avramopoulos, here to join us. His presence, like the sculpture, reminds us of the deep cultural and historical bonds that join New York City and Athens.
"As I've said, the greatest legacy of great cities is the beauty that they leave the world. And the Goddess Athena represents the essence of Periclean Athens: to improve the City constantly, to always make it greater and more beautiful. That is what we are committed to doing in New York City today, as expressed in the Athenian Oath of Fealty, with which we pledged "to transmit this city not only not less, but far greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us."
"I would like to thank Athens Square, Inc., and the Parks Department, for their work to create this park over the last eight years. You have shown your commitment to the ideals of that oath and through careful planning and persistence, you have proven just how beautiful, and how valuable, a small space like this can be."
Parks Commissioner Henry Stern said, "We are thrilled that Athens Square, Inc. and the City of Athens have teamed up with Parks to provide this beautiful statue for all of Queens and the City to enjoy."
The bronze statue, a replica of the Piraeus Athena (c. 350 B.C.), was sculpted by Stavros Georgopoulos and Spiro Goggakis.
In 1990, Athens Square Park, named for the capital of modern Greece and the center of ancient Greek civilization, underwent major renovations by the City's Parks Department and Athens Square, Inc. for use as a neighborhood gathering place for Astoria's Greek-American and other neighborhood communities. Restoration and landscaping activity in 1993 focused on new trees and plantings, benches and tables, a playground and a basketball court. That same year, Athens Square, Inc. funded a bronze statue of philosopher Socrates and in 1996, contributed a trio of fluted Doric columns that were installed adjacent to the amphitheater. In 1997, the Parks Department spent $100,000 to install wrought iron fencing around the columns and to replace the play area's safety surfacing.
The 1997 Parks Inspection Program showed the City's 1,500 parks had the highest ever cleanliness and condition ratings since the inspection system was revised in 1992.
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