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Highbridge Park Plaza Honors Dominican Republic Leader, Author

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TWC News: Highbridge Park Plaza Honors Dominican Republic Leader, Author
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The newly redesigned Juan Bosch Plaza officially opened Friday inside Highbridge Park.

The Washington Heights memorial pays tribute to the writing of Bosch who was the first democratically elected president of the Dominican Republic, following more than two decades in exile.

"He dedicated most of his life in favor of the Dominican people," said Juan Bosch Foundation President Santos Acevedo.

Bosch's administration lasted just seven months in 1963 before he was deposed by a military coup, but he left a lasting legacy in his efforts to bring democracy to his country.

He was also a prolific writer of short stories and books. Now, some of his words are etched within the plaza.

"We identified writings that people could connect to, and they are inscribed on the curb of the plaza both in English and Spanish, so when you are here you can connect to that history," said North Manhattan Parks Administrator Jennifer Hoppa.

Bosch died in 2001, but members of his family were on hand to celebrate the half million dollar project, paid for with City Council funding. That included his daughter, grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter, who performed a song written by Bosch.

"He wrote it in jail and the name is La Gaviota. It's about a bird that flies with the sun, and he wanted to fly like the bird," said Bosch's great grand-daughter, Jennifer Pion.

The space will also be used by the Juan Bosch Foundation for community programs aimed at preserving the values found in Bosch's life and work.

"We are going to organize a lot of workshops to keep in mind Professor Juan Bosch's ideas," Acevedo said.

The foundation has commissioned a bust of the late Juan Bosch, currently in storage in the Dominican Republic.

The plan is to bring it to the plaza once the Parks Department gives its final approval.

Meantime, almost $100 million has been poured into the surrounding park recently, including money to renovate the High Bridge, which crosses the Harlem River.

The span is the city's oldest standing bridge, dating back to 1848.

It will eventually be a pedestrian and cycling bridge to connect Manhattan and the Bronx.

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