Yesterday morning, Mayor Bloomberg dedicated a memorial for American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed on November 12, 2001 in Belle Harbor, Queens. The Dominican Republic-bound plane had taken off from JFK Airport; turbulent air led the co-pilot to use the rudder to keep the plane up, but the rudder broke off. All 260 people on board - 251 passengers and 9 crew members - were killed when the plane crashed into the quiet residential neighborhood. Five people on the ground were also killed. Many of the plane's passengers were from Washington Heights and Astoria.

The memorial built 17 blocks from the crash site. From the NY Times:

The memorial is a curved and perforated wall, made up of blocks of vermilion granite from Canada. The 265 names, carved on 190 blocks, are arrayed alphabetically by surname, with some exceptions. Families are grouped together, as are the nine crew members and the five people who died on the ground.

Along the wall are holes of different shapes, where family members placed roses. The wall has a large portal with a view of the ocean; the lintel above it bears the inscription “Después No Quiero Más Que Paz” — “Afterward I Want Only Peace” — a line in a poem by Pedro Mir, a Dominican poet who died in 2000. On the plaza in front of the wall are a group of Aristocrat pear trees. Around the memorial, landscape architects planted Eastern red cedars, shore juniper, New York aster, red switch grass, pink coreopsis, beach rose, Montauk daisies and liriope.

There has been debate over the placement of the memorial - some families wanted it at the crash site, whereas many residents were against the idea. The NY Times notes that the current site at Beach 116th Street is "in a commercial district and close to a subway station" and that the Mayor also dedicated a marker at the crash site three years ago.


Many family members and friends were present at the ceremony. Angela Martinez, whose brother, sister-in-law and niece were killed, told Newsday, "We waited a long time for a place. Now we have a place to go on birthdays and at Christmas. I can come here with peace of mind." Brad States, the 15 year old son of the pilot, said, "My dad used to do a presentation at math-science day at our school and he used to give these [American Airlines wings pins]. So I'm going to leave one of these today."

The memorial was designed by Freddy Rodriguez, a Dominican-born Queens artist. You can see his design here.

Photograph of the Flight 587 Memorial in Queens by Seth Wenig/AP