Kimlau Square Just off the Bowery is Slated for $900K Rehab

Posted on: March 23rd, 2016 at 5:07 am by
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Standing stoic for fifty-five years strong, Kimlau Square is ready for rehabilitation. The small island park at the junction of Oliver Street, East Broadway, the Bowery, and Park Row is the recent recipient of $900,000 in capital funding from the city.

The Parks Department is hosting a visioning session (“scope meeting”) next Tuesday (March 29) to begin the design process. Neighborhood input for the park renovation will aid in the development of a “schematic design” that will be presented to Community Board 3 at a later date.

Benjamin Kimlau was a Chinese American war hero who died in battle flying a B-24 during WWII. The memorial in his namesake square – designed by architect Poy G. Lee in 1961 – is eighteen feet nine inches in height, and sixteen feet wide. Its dedication reads, “In Memory of the Americans of Chinese Ancestry who lost their Lives in Defense of Freedom and Democracy.”

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Benjamin Kimlau, Photo: Dewitt Clinton

Here’s a bit of background on the man:

Born in Concord, Massachusetts, Kimlau moved to New York City with his parents when he was fourteen.

Interested in airborne defense, Kimlau transferred from Field Artillery to the United States Army Air Force. Following flight school, he was assigned to the “Flying Circus,” the 380th Bombardment Group of the Fifth Air Force in Australia. Beginning on February 27, 1944, along with four other pilots, Kimlau embarked on a mission to bomb Japanese airbases around New Guinea. On March 5, 1944, Kimlau and his fellow pilots were ordered to attack the Japanese rear line at Los Negros, an island adjacent to New Guinea. During the attack, the Japanese defenders shot down the attacking U. S. bombers, killing Kimlau and the other pilots. For their heroism and devotion to duty on this occasion and several others, the members of 380th Bombardment Group earned two Presidential Unit Citations.

Speaking of Kimlau, it’s difficult to ignore the recent flap over the name when Webster Hall proposed a new Chinatown venue called “Kimlau Gardens.” The staunch local opposition kept the team, which subsequently changed the name to Mul-Bay Cocktail Lounge, from proceeded with their plans.

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