Altab Ali Park is a renovated park (formally St. Mary’s Park) designed by muf Architecture and opened to the pubic in 2011. It is situated on the site of the White Chapel (1250 – 1286), after which the surrounding area was named. The chapel was rebuilt many times as a place of worship (the most recent incarnation in 1877) and was finally destroyed in 1940 during a bombing raid in the Second World War. The new name for this park is in memory of Altab Ali, a 25 year old Bangladeshi who was murdered in a racist attack this area in 1978. His death sparked a march which eventually pushed the National Front out of Whitechapel.
The entrance arch was created by David Peterson in 1989 as a memorial to Altab Ali and other victims of racist attacks. It incorporates Bengali style patterns and symbolises the merging of different cultures of East London. The base on which this arch is situated is part of the stone doorway into the original White Chapel which was situated on this site.
From the park’s main entrance gate on Whitechapel Road a footpath diagonally bisects the park in two.
To the north of the diagonal path an elevated section of green terrazzo maps the plan of the former church’s nave. This also performs the function of a bench.
Arranged throughout the park are relics (both original and replica) of the former churches and graveyard, making reference to this site’s past.
In the south west corner of the park a replica of Shaheed Minar is located. This was created in 1999 and symbolises a mother protecting her children with the sun in the background. The original in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is a national monument. It commemorates those killed in the Bengali Language Movement demonstrations in 1952.
To the south side of the diagonal path is a children’s natural play area is located. This is composed of grassed earth mounds, rocks and tree trunks.