A Story of Socrates Sculpture Park



As a resident of the nearby Astoria Houses for a significant amount of my formative years in the late 1990’s, the unfinished Socrates Sculpture Park felt like my own personal sanctuary.

I am thankful and grateful that even though Socrates’ programming has evolved tremendously, (and lately more so under the helm of Astoria kid Audrey Dimola), the landscape of the place is still very raw, still very unfinished.

It was in this landscape that I learned to appreciate the natural terrain of Queens. In all its abandonment, I was able to appreciate how peaceful Socrates was and how it was so unlike the rest of the urban Queens I was familiar with. I loved looking across the East River and unto the shape of Hallets Cove, the skyline of the massive 22 building Astoria housing project.

I remember first distinguishing low and high tides from the waves crashed against the base of the park, or didn’t at all. It was easier to figure out when the tide was low because it made the stench in the air unforgettable.

While most would say Socrates is located in an area that exhibits the worst of Queens’ nature, it was the nature I knew. It’s where I was able to slow down the rapidly moving parts of my neighborhood. Socrates was where I found peace.

So while this Saturday, Socrates’ expects to be a lot more lively with Video Music Box coming into town for “Ralph McDaniels’ Hip Hop in the Park,” it’s still essentially the same park I remember it to be as a kid.

I’m also honored to be a part of the day’s programming and look forward to engaging with the crowd, and hearing everyone’s own stories of growing up in Queens, and learn more about how they were influenced by Hip Hop and the legendary Video Music Box.

Photo and words by Adolfo Steve Vazquez