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Queens Chronicle

Home for the Holiday statue sparks debate

Addisleigh Park takes on City Hall

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Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:30 pm, Thu Sep 5, 2019.

In her all too brief life, Billie Holiday earned legions of fans.

And she still has plenty of them in her former neighborhood of Addisleigh Park, where people are engaging in a letter-writing campaign to relocate a statue of the jazz legend that the city is planning for Borough Hall.

As part of city first lady Chirlane McCray’s “She Built NYC” initiative [see related story in some editions and online at qchron.com] statues of women will be commissioned and erected in the coming years.

Holiday, who sang to sold-out venues and performed with all the great musicians and bands of her era, was 44 when she died in 1959.

McCray’s committee has selected Borough Hall. But Southeast Queens and Addisleigh Park leaders want her to come home.

Members of the Addisleigh Park Civic Association could not be reached prior to the Chronicle’s deadline on Wednesday, though Rene Hill, chairwoman of Community Board 12, shares their sentiments.

“How great would it be for our children, our little girls to see her statue and learn who she was?” Hill asked. “I was born in Queens and grew up in Queens. I never went to Borough Hall.”

A spokesman for the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs confirmed the location in an email.

“Siting permanent public artwork involves a range of factors and variables, from technical considerations to the significance and power of particular locations,” he said. “For the Billie Holiday monument, we are continuing to explore sites near Queens Borough Hall as the best location to recognize Holiday’s immeasurable contributions to New York City.”

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