The memorial is intended to provide a place of contemplation and commemoration honoring those who died in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 on November 12, 2001. The flight was traveling from Queens, New York to Santo Domingo in The Dominican Republic and crashed shortly after take-off from JFK airport.
Oriented towards the ocean beyond, an arching granite wall sits atop an elevated plinth surrounded by planters and nine pear trees. The vegetation serves as a screen separating the visitors from passersby. Voids in the wall frame views of the water and sky and provide places to leave flowers and mementos to loved ones. The names of each of the 265 victims are inscribed on the surface at various heights and a single threshold cuts the wall at its center. At exactly 9:12 a.m. each year, on the anniversary of the crash, sunlight passes through the threshold and aligns with the pattern of paving on the ground. A major challenge of this project was to create a quiet space of contemplation within Rockaway’s busy and heavily trafficked commercial center.
En-route to Santo Domingo, many of the passengers were of Dominican descent. The tragedy, the second largest in U.S. aviation history, brought together New York's Dominican Community and the residents of Belle Harbor. On November 12th, 2006, the Flight 587 Memorial was dedicated in a ceremony honoring the fifth anniversary of the crash.