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Lenin statue
Photograph: Nicole Bamber

The Lenin statue on the LES is now covered in Ukrainian flag colors

When you're on Norfolk Street, look up to see the monument.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

In-the-know New Yorkers tend to be fascinated by a local statue of the late Russian revolutionary and former Premier of the Soviet Union Vladimir Lenin.

As legend has it, the monument was first commissioned by the communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). When the state dissolved in 1989, the statue suddenly became irrelevant—until developers Michael Shaoul and Michael Rosen built the "Red Square" development at 250 East Houston Street right here in New York that same year.

Reportedly having named the landmark development after the changes that were then defining Eastern Europe, Rosen and Shaoul supposedly found the statue of Lenin in the trash in a backyard just outside of Moscow. Five years later, they installed the monument on top of their own building.

But the story doesn't end there. In 2017, the monument was relocated to a rooftop on Nortfolk Street, behind Remedy Diner. Now, it has undergone yet another change as passerby may notice that it is covered in yellow and blue, the colors of the Ukrainian flag. 

The art piece is obviously draped in mystery. We're not entirely sure who made it, what it stands for, who moved it to its current location and—perhaps most importantly—who is responsible for its recent change in color (and what it even means).

And yet, as bizarre as the statue is, it seems to fully fit in with the current state of affairs in New York. City landmarks have, in fact, been lighting up in blue and yellow in support of Ukraine for the past few weeks.

Other institutions have made their allegiance to the Eastern European country even clearer by quite literally severing ties with Russia. For example, after announcing that it's banning all performers who support Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Metropolitan Opera also made public its decision to host a benefit concert in support of Ukraine.

At the end of February, New York governor Kathy Hochul also signed an executive order effectively ending all of the state's business with Russia.

What a Lenin draped in blue and yellow means in the grand scheme of things is unclear at the moment, but it surely does sound like a statement of allegiance for the country that is currently under vicious attack.

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