Billie Holiday Plaza unveiled


City officials pledged yesterday to raise the Billie Holiday Monument by six feet as part of a larger plan to bolster the intersection of Lafayette Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Celebrating what would have been the 91st birthday of the jazz great, city planning director Otis Rolley III, along with leaders from the recreation and parks department, unveiled the new Billie Holiday Plaza in a 20-minute ceremony in the Upton neighborhood.

Much of the development will take place on the northeast corner of the intersection, where a wall mural of Holiday will be painted and song lyrics will be paved into a new sidewalk in the park.

The city also plans to add bleacher seating in front of the Royal Theatre marquee on the southeast corner of the intersection, along with additional shrubbery and flowers at all four corners. Providence Baptist Church is located on the southwest corner.

"The monument was never truly completed, but we didn't want to do that in isolation, particularly with the potential as it relates to heritage and tourism in the city," Rolley said.

"We really wanted to do a better job of tying all four corners together, and that is what this plan does. It celebrates [Holiday's] history and the history of Upton."

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