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New York Story: Effort to Turn Weedy Lot Into AIDS Memorial

New York Story: Effort to Turn Weedy Lot Into AIDS Memorial


Two young men hope to honor New York's early victims of AIDS, as well as the hospital and staff that treated them, by turning an underutilized triangle of land into a verdant public space and memorial.

Chris Tepper, 29, and Paul Kelterborn, 33, are spearheading the effort. Calling themselves the Queer History Alliance, the men hope to honor the work of St. Vincent's hospital, the Greenwich Village institution that recently went bankrupt and shut its doors. St. Vincent's treated some of the earliest AIDS victims and took in nearly 100,000 AIDS sufferers from 1981 to 1996 -- a period when the disease was often fatal.

After St. Vincent's closed last year, a real estate developer swooped in and bought it, with hopes to develop a mix of towers and townhouses. The developer, Rudin Management, agreed to spend $10 million to revitalize a 15,000 square foot green space that sits across the street from the old hospital. But Tepper and Kelterborn have bigger ambitions for the space -- they want fountains and play areas, as well as a "totemic AIDS ribbon integrated into the landscaping," according to The New York Times. An existing underground space would be converted into a mini-museum that honors New York's AIDS victims and the people who fought to save them.

Tepper and Kelterborn are working not only with Rudin, but the tangle of bureaucracy required to get anything done in New York. The men are aided by some influential people like Robert Hammond, the co-founder of the iconic High Line park on the city's west side -- Hammond serves on the Queer History Alliance's advisory board. Click here to read more about Tepper and Kelterborn's efforts.

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