On Tuesday afternoon, Yeshiva University administrators, faculty and students, as well as New York City government officials, gathered on the new 185th Street Plaza for the official dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The plaza, which was completed in August, was under construction for the past year, is located on 185th Street between Amsterdam and Audubon Avenues, and provides members of the YU community and the Washington Heights community alike with a vehicle-free area to walk, congregate, and sit.
The official dedication was emceed by Andrew Lauer, YU’s vice president for legal affairs, secretary and general counsel. Newly invested President Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman spoke first, addressing a crowd of about 75 people. “The mission of Yeshiva University,” he said, “is to build a kinder, more gentle not just Jewish community, but really all of society. It’s for this reason that I love this project. It doesn’t just give a space for our students to congregate and relax, but it is a place for our entire community to come.”
Other speakers included NYC Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who helped provide funding for the plaza; New York State Senator Marisol Alcantara, and Deputy Eric Marfarlane of the New York City Department of Design and Construction.
Though the new plaza is located in the heart of YU’s Wilf Campus, its construction was part of a larger project: the NYC Department of Transportation’s NYC Plaza Program, which aims to provide all inhabitants of New York City a quality open space within walking distance. “Plazas are porches for our community,” said Ed Pincar, deputy borough commissioner of the NYC Department of Transportation. “We’re not celebrating a project today, but the construction of our community and the deepening ties within it.”
Zach Sterman, Yeshiva Student Union president and YC ‘18, spoke at the ceremony, representing the students who use the plaza. “This plaza is an integral part of the environment here, and sets the tone for what we can accomplish right here on the Wilf Campus,” said Sterman. “I’ve had multiple student council and club meetings right here on these benches. The plaza, the physical epicenter of our campus, is where all our paths, physically and figuratively, collide and form something much bigger than the individual parts.”
After the speeches, President Berman, Councilman Rodriguez, Pincar, and Macfarlane formally cut the plaza ribbon, flecked with YU insignia, with golden scissors.