Frederick Douglas Circle

The Frederick Douglass Circle is a city monument which commemorates the great American orator, intellectual and human rights advocate who dedicated his life to the abolition of slavery as well as to the rights of women, Irish home rule and other causes. Towers on the Park flanks this beautiful and inspiring space on the NW and SW quadrants. The Circle occupies a majestic position as the gateway to Harlem, which lies to the north. Although the Circle was named after Frederick Douglass on September 17, 1950,  the design and installation of the Circle in its present form was not completed until June 2, 2010. The Circle design was developed by the Harlem-based artist, Algernon Miller. He was inspired by traditional African American quilt patterns, which are echoed in the colorful paving patterns in the Circle and its geometric benches. A linear fountain traces the life and quotations of Frederick Douglass, as well as historical details marking the slaves’ passage to freedom. At night, pinpoint lights on the wall of the fountain represent the starry night used for navigation on this journey. An elegant bronze statue of Douglass designed by Gabriel Koren overlooks the Circle and faces northward to Harlem.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass’ dedication to the abolition of slavery began with his own birth into slavery in Maryland, around 1818. Through his encounters with others as well as his own intellectual curiosity, he learned to read. He became avidly devoted to literature and political writing, which provided him with the intellectual framework for his life’s work as an abolitionist. His later experiences expanded his interest to the liberation of women and to Irish home rule. He became an experienced orator and writer, serving to illuminate his own life and to advance the freedom of all African Americans. He died on February 20, 1895.

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