Monuments designate the war memorial and archaeological site of Kimlau


The Kimlau War Memorial. Image Credit: NYC LPC.

The designations are the latest in the agency’s efforts for more inclusive designations. On June 22, 2021, the Monuments Preservation Commission voted to designate the Kimlau War Memorial in Chinatown and the Aakawaxung Munahanung (Wind Protected Island) archaeological site on Staten Island. The designations mark the earliest monuments designated in New York City to recognize Chinese-American and Native American history.

The Kimlau War Memorial, located in Kimlau Square, is a ceremonial granite walkway arch located at the intersection of Chatham Square, Oliver Street and East Broadway. The memorial was built to honor the memory of Chinese-American soldiers who died in service and has inscriptions in Chinese and English. The bow was sponsored by Lieutenant BR Kimlau Chinese Memorial Post 1291 of the American Legion and was named in honor of Second Lieutenant Benjamin Ralph Kimlau, a Chinese American pilot who was killed in action in 1944 while attacking Japanese military installations in the South Pacific during World War II. For CityEarthKimlau War Memorial previous cover, click here.

The Aakawaxung Munahanung (Wind Protected Island) archaeological site was previously classified as a “Conference House archaeological site” because the site is located in the Conference House Park in Tottenville, Staten Island. The real name of the site was identified through further research and consultation with the city’s federally recognized tribes. The site has been the site of more than 19 archaeological projects that uncovered evidence of Indigenous life from around 8,000 years ago until the colonial period. A village of Lenape was likely on the site during the forest period (500 BC – 1100 AD), and they depended on the region’s fish, oysters, game and other resources.

Around 1670, during the colonial period, the British enacted land deeds that took Staten Island from the Lenapes. Christopher Billopp received a patent for land that included this archaeological site as well as the area to the north of the site. He built the Conference House here in 1675, and the house is already a New York City landmark. The area is currently owned by the New York City Parks Department. For CityEarthprevious cover of, click here.

Landmarks President Sarah Carroll said, “I am proud that today the Commission has designated its first monument specifically recognizing the thousands of years of Native American history and culture in New York City, as well as the first monument recognizing the contributions of its Chinese-American community. As part of the agency’s equity framework, I am committed to advancing the designation of monuments that better represent the city’s diversity and tell the story of all New Yorkers. The recognition and celebration of the history that these two sites embody is so important, and both are found in city parks and are accessible to the public.

New York Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP said, “We thank the Monuments Preservation Commission for recognizing the historical and cultural significance of the Aakawaxung Munahanung (Wind Protected Island) archaeological site in Conference House Park and the Kimlau War Memorial in Kimlau Square. . As we work to build a more equitable park system, these iconic designations increase representation and honor the stories and contributions of Indigenous peoples and Chinese Americans in our public spaces.

Through: Veronique Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw Scholar and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2018.)

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