Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

Representing the 8th District of New York

NYDN: House of Representatives Passes Bill to Study Prison Ship Martyrs Monument

Apr 29, 2014
In The News

The Prison Ship Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park could become a U.S. National Park Service landmark under a bill passed by the House of Representatives Monday night.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) introduced the bill because he and parks advocates are concerned about the condition of the 149-foot Doric column and underground crypt and want parkgoers to better understand the history behind the memorial.

“The monument is largely used as a skate park and a destination for people engaging in their morning physical activities,” said Jeffries of the 116-year-old landmark, which houses some of the remains of 11,500 colonists who perished aboard British prison ships on the East River during the American Revolution. “That was not the intention of the monument.”

Jeffries wants to set up a joint maintenance partnership between the private Fort Greene Park Conservancy, the city Parks Department and the federal National Park Service.

The arrangement would allow more resources to flow to the monument, said Geoffrey Croft of the New York City Parks Advocates.

“The city refuses to take care of its monuments,” said Croft. “It’s outrageous how little money the city allocates. They just let them squander.”

The bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introduced an identical measure last year. The legislation would authorize a $150,000 study to determine if turning the memorial into a national monument would be feasible.