June 2, 2021
Sarah Carroll, Chair
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Re: Kimlau War Memorial – Individual Landmark Designation
Dear Chair Carroll:
I’m writing on behalf of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative – LESPI – to strongly support Individual Landmark designation for the Kimlau War Memorial arch at Chatham Square. Designed by the well-known architect Poy Gum Lee and constructed in 1961 by the American Legion, Lt. B.R. Kimlau Post 1291, the arch commemorates Americans of Chinese ancestry who lost their lives in defense of our country. The memorial was named after U.S. Army Air Corps 2nd Lieutenant, Benjamin Ralph Kimlau, a resident of Chinatown shot down during World War II.
Situated at the eastern side of Chinatown’s historic core, the memorial marks the entryway to this very historically important New York City neighborhood. It also helps define Chatham Square visually, providing a strong sense of place. It is constructed with granite facing and appears to remain in good condition, unaltered from its original construction.
This designation would be the first to celebrate Chinese American history and culture. For almost two centuries, New Yorkers of Chinese descent have had an enormous influence on the life and culture of the city, with scant official recognition. We believe that this designation would be an excellent first step – but hopefully only a first step – in providing landmark recognition and protection for other Chinese American historic sites and neighborhoods, particularly in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Cc: Deborah Wye, Lower East Side Preservation Initiative