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Photo: New York City AIDS Memorial

Construction has officially commenced on the long anticipated – and delayed – New York City AIDS Memorial Park at St. Vincent’s Triangle Park. The park, a 16,000 square foot patch of green, resides opposite where the park’s namesake hospital once stood at West 12th Street and Greenwich Avenue.

The memorial, referencing the last renderings made public, will feature an 18 foot triangular metal canopy and granite stones bearing inscribed poetry, quotes and facts. The memorial’s entranceway will be framed by benches.

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Photo: New York City AIDS Memorial

Starting earlier this week, workers can now be seen assembling the long steel columns for the memorial’s canopy on site.

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Photo: New York City AIDS Memorial

The columns were constructed in Argentina while the granite pavers — designed by artist Jenny Holzer, known for her text based art installations in Central Park and 7 World Trade Center — are currently being engraved with selections from Walt Whitman’s “Songs of Myself” stateside in Cold Spring, Minnesota.

The 8,992 words of Whitman’s poetry will spiral outward, originating from a fountain at the center of the memorial.

The memorial, originally slated to open last December, remained mostly inactive since the park opened to the public last August. Plans to open the memorial in time for World AIDS Day in December of 2015 were derailed when granite workers advised against installing the granite in the frigid winter temperatures of NYC, according to one of the memorial’s planners Chris Tepper.

The park, officially renamed The New York City AIDS Memorial at St. Vincent’s Triangle by the Parks Department in May, was conceived in 2011. In exchange for the creation of the park, the city allowed developers Rudin Management and Global Holdings to build the condo complex, The Greenwich Lane, across the street on the grounds where St. Vincent’s previously stood.

Tepper and fellow urban planner Paul Kelterborn spearheaded the movement for the park to incorporate the AIDS memorial. St. Vincent’s Hospital once stood as Ground Zero for the virus’s epidemic, so it was only fitting that a permanent memorial be erected a stone’s throw from where the hospital once stood as a beacon of hope for those infected, says Tepper.

Tepper and Kelterborn hope the memorial will bridge the gap between the LGBTQ community and their allies who lived through the AIDS epidemic and younger generations.

“Along with the neighboring Stonewall National Monument, this is a proud moment for LGBT historic preservation,” Keith Fox, president of the memorial’s board of directors, added in a statement.

President Obama named the Stonewall Inn a national monument this past June, the first national monument to LGBTQ rights.

“New York City has come so far in its fight against HIV and AIDS,” Fox said. “We are proud to remember the 100,000+ New Yorkers who have died from AIDS and offer the community a place to remember, reflect and learn.”

The New York City AIDS Memorial at St. Vincent’s Triangle is currently scheduled to be dedicated on World AIDS Day on December 4th, 2016.

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