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Opening Ceremony Held For FDR Memorial Park

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Forty years after the original design was first proposed, a ceremony was held Wednesday on Roosevelt Island to dedicate a park in honor of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

On the island that bears his name, President Franklin D. Roosevelt now, at long last, has a monument to match at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park.

"It will stand forever as a monument to a man who brought us through the Great Depression and brought us victory over great evil," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The first memorial to FDR in his home state, officials dedicated the park Wednesday, with dignitaries joined by FDR's grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The park is named after a famous passage in FDR's 1941 State of the Union speech, where he said "we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms." The four freedoms, freedom of speech and of worship and freedom from want and from fear, were incorporated into the United Nations charter. Now, just 300 yards from the UN, the passage is inscribed in stone on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in a brand-new four-acre park.

"The dream is still the right dream for America," said former President Bill Clinton.

Wednesday’s ceremony was the culmination of decades of planning. New York officials first announced plans for the park in 1973, with renowned architect Louis Khan the designer. But Khan's sudden death a year later, combined with the city's fiscal crisis, pushed the project onto the back burner until it was revived in 2005.

The $53 million park was completed mostly with private funds, though Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he intends to make it New York’s 214th state park.

"It will be open to the public for all to enjoy, as it should be," Cuomo said. "And it will be a lasting and fitting tribute to New York State’s son, senator, governor and president, FDR."

There are also plans to transform an abandoned 19th-century smallpox hospital nearby into a visitor's center. The park opens to the public next Wednesday.

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