If you walked along the waterfront in Battery Park City one night, you might come upon a limestone plinth with a narrow opening and a few bits of greenery sticking out of the top. After walking through the dark entryway, you pass through a crumbling cottage, up a flight of steps and suddenly you’re in the middle of the Irish countryside.
The Irish Hunger Memorial may not be the most well-known monument in NYC, but it may be one of the loveliest, especially in summer. As you stroll along the curving pathway through the waist-high plants, you can feel a slight breeze from the Hudson River and take in a spectacular view of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Construction on the memorial began in March 2001, and—despite the attacks on 9/11—it was completed and dedicated on July 16, 2002. It was designed by artist Brian Tolle, landscape artist Gail Wittwer-Laird and 1100 architect, and is meant to raise awareness of the Great Irish Famine which killed over a million people between 1845 and 1852. Stones from all of country’s county can be found on the structure, and the soil and native vegetation were all transported from the island.
The cottage at the memorial is a reconstruction of an actual Irish cottage from the 19th century, the time of the famine, and is from Carradoogan in the parish of Attymass in County Mayo. It’s supported by Kilkenny limestone, that is over 300 million-years-old and contains fossils from the ancient Irish seabed.
You can explore the half-acre site for yourself at the corner of Vesey Street and North End Avenue in Battery Park City.