Frederick Douglass Circle in Harlem opens, people already visiting

Photos by HarlemGal for

By HarlemGal for HarlemCondoLife

Today is the first day that Frederick Douglass Circle in Harlem is available to the public. Yes, it is officially open after more than seven years in the making.Wow. It’s about time and long overdue. According to a worker at Cafe Amrita, City workers were taking down the barriers last night around 1 AM.

Thank you to whomever said or convinced the City to open the circle now. Nice timing. Harlemites can enjoy the Circle during the summer months and on. I was out there today looking at every aspect of the Circle. It looks fabulous.

Below are pictures of locals looking around Harlem’s brand new Frederick Douglass Circle or better yet, come by and see it for yourself! Take the B/C to 110th Street/Catherdral Parkway or the 2/3 to 110 Street/Central Park North.

32 thoughts on “Frederick Douglass Circle in Harlem opens, people already visiting”

  1. The marble slabs should be fitted with skateboard deterrents as soon as possible. The marble itself has been damaged. People who wish to use the marble as a place to sit are run off by skateboarders. I have witnessed skateboarders threatening community members who have pointed out the ‘no skateboarding’ signs. The noise for residents of the surrounding buildings is amplified by the nature of the circle and the two large buildings at one end.

  2. I stopped by this circle a week ago, when the heat was unbearable. What a terrible design. All concrete and a fountain that doesn’t work. It took what, five or six years to complete, and zero landscaping or greening to make the circle a cooler, shady and shielded spot in the summer? Compare this porkbelly Rangel project to the city-initiated Columbus Circle renovation, which took around a year or two. Federal tax dollars spent on a Charlie Rangel monument with little interest in actually making the thing usable. And now it’ll be like that for decades, just getting scraped up by skateboarders.

    1. There are ways to deter skateboarders other than using signs. Most urban/suburban areas use small metal brackets anywhere a skateboarder could possibly “play”. They are affixed every foot or so on the marble. Yes, I know it would negate the streamline look of the design, but at least it would reduce what the skateboarders can do in the circle area. As far as it being greener…let’s let nature do her thing. Once those trees get a chance to grow it may turn out to be quite the oasis. Or as much of an oasis as there can be in NYC. In addition, why hang out in the busy circle when Central Park and Morningside Park are (at most) one block away?

  3. He should have been made much bigger, something closer to the scale of the Jefferson or Lincoln memorial. They should have put him on a base so that he commanded the circle and your eyes are drawn to him. As is, it’s easy not to notice him.

    1. @Congressman Rangel’s Office. Thank you so much. The rollerblading and skateboarding on our beautiful circle has been a big subject of discussion both on and offline-mainly from a hazardous/dangerous angle. There is so much traffic around this circle, and their just getting use to the fact that it is open to the public, that if one of these young kids overshoots his or her speed or fancy jump on this circle, they could land right in the street where there is a ton of busy traffic. None of us want that to happen, especially the designers/artists/the city as well and especially the great Frederick Douglass himself.
      Thank you for listening to our dialogue about the Frederick Douglass Circle on and for doing something about it! Very much appreciated!

  4. Folks should call 311 to file a complaint about biking and skateboarding on the site. Otherwise they’ll ruin the circle or cause some kind of accident out onto traffic.

  5. As a resident of southwest Harlem, I appreciate that the circle “opens” to the neighborhood.

    As for the direction of the statue, there are arguments to be made on both sides, and it would probably be a matter of greater controversy if the reverse approach had been taken.

    On balance, I think the circle looks great — even if it’s taken an incredibly long time to finish.

    Anyone know what is up with the fountain? It seemed that the last several months were spent working on it, but as of the past week it appears not to have been turned on at all…

  6. Wonderful, but the point was, it is not a gateway TO Harlem.

    Well at least the skateboarding kids love running over every inch of high-price stonework. Given the crowd that otherwise now congregates there at night, I’m just waiting for the crime stats to arrive.

    1. I have gone by Frederick Douglass Circle at night. The crowds seem fine to me-nothing unusual.

      As for the skateboarders, does anyone have any recommendations on who to call to see if we can request that a sign go up on the Circle prohibiting biking and skateboarding on the site?

  7. In addition, to my mind positioning Douglass the other way around would send exactly the wrong message. As the statue stands now, he’s looking towards Harlem, which beginning in the 1910s and ’20s attracted African Americans with the promise that it was a community where black people could strive and shine. Whatever the gap between the promise and the reality, Harlem nurtured painters, musicians and performers alongside ordinary working people and their children; surely having Douglass face Harlem is better than having him with his back turned to it.

  8. Frederick Douglass is facing north because heading north was his road to freedom and because the newspaper he published was called the North Star.

  9. This monument as a “gateway to Harlem” would have been a wonderful idea, but its not, because the geniuses behind the design decided Douglass would face north. How nice, you get to see his back when entering Harlem. But as the CB7 manager said at the “public hearing” years ago, anything is better than what’s there now.”

  10. Awesome!!! Frederick Douglass is rightfully positioned as a giant among all. The quilting has been lessened but there is enough for a smart tour guide or teacher make a link between the contributions of quilters and sewers (black and white) who sold their wares to raise money for the Underground Railroad and abolitionist movements. A very powerful memorial, congrats to the artists, and thanks.

  11. I live at this intersection and have watched the painfully slow progression for duration of the project. Unfortunately, the “traffic calming” circle we were promised has only created more traffic and more angry drivers, who incessently honk and run the red lights. As well, all emergency vehicles now leave their sirens on much longer as they try to move through the vehicles queued in the circle.

    As for the memorial itself, its seems quite popular…with the kids on skate boards and on trick bikes. Last night, on its first night open, walking through the memorial was rather dangerous. I cant wait to see the homeless bathing there his summer!

    Thank you, DDC and CB7!

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