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Union Square Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, October 1, 2001

HE’S GOT RHYTHM: GERSHWIN’S 103RD BIRTHDAY CELEBRATED IN SEWARD PARK


Photo by Malcolm (Cinema) Pinckney

George Gershwin would have been 103 years old on September 26, 2001. On that day, a birthday party was held for him in a park nearly as old as Gershwin, Seward Park. Seward Park opened in 1903, when the Gershwin brothers and sisters were kids. They might have clambered up the playground’s slides or ridden the swings high enough to see into the windows of neighboring tenements. Seward was America’s first permanent playground, and George and Ira Gershwin were lucky that it lay close to their elementary school, P.S. 20 on Essex Street in Manhattan.

The legendary composer’s birthday was celebrated with musical performances by students from the Henry Street Music School. Narrating the musical tribute was prominent actor of the stage and screen, Eli Wallach, a native New Yorker and, a little known fact: a former Parks lifeguard. George Gershwin’s works have become a staple of the American musical canon, taught in schools and performed on the most celebrated stages. Seward Park was a humble stage for his great music, but one that facilitated childrens’ transport backwards through time. Students from Seward Park School, P.S. 140, and P.S. 184 were present. Perhaps some of them were able to picture George Gershwin as a 12-year-old schoolboy as he sat before a piano for the first time. Many of the children had written letters of thanks to Mayor Rudolph (Eagle) Giuliani for helping to keep the city safe in a time of crisis. Their was extra emphasis when they sang, "old man trouble. I don’t mind him. You won’t find him hanging round my door."

Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern; Adrian (A-Train) Benepe, Manhattan Borough Commissioner; Jayne Godlewski, Principal of Seward Park School; Esteban Barrientos, Principal of P.S. 140; Nancy Hope-Lowans, Title VII Coordinator for P.S. 184; and Caroline Stoeffinger of the Henry Street Music School were among those present at the birthday bash.

SYRACUSE: FORESTRY’S SISTER CITY?

Congratulations to former Parkie Brian Liberti who has just accepted a position as Director of Forestry for the City of Syracuse. He will be the first person to hold this position, bringing the knowledge he gained at Parks to his native city. Liberti for one year worked as a Street Tree Forester in Manhattan. In that role, he negotiated the challenges of planting trees in the borough with the least spare room. He excelled at his job. Through a fortuitous coincidence, Liberti is replaced by Shawn Maerz, who graduated from Syracuse University’s Environmental Science and Forestry program at. Maerz will be based in the Bronx.

THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT

(Monday, October 3, 1988)

MAYOR KOCH SPEAKS AT GANDHI BIRTHDAY

TRIBUTE AT UNION SQUARE PARK

Since New York City erected the only monument in the United States of Mahatma Gandhi two years ago, the site at the southwest corner of Union Square Park has become a place where people reflect on the ideals of non-violent resistance espoused by the great Indian leader.

"You can’t walk by this statue and not think of what Ghandi stood for," said Mayor Koch yesterday, looking up at the statue by H.K Patel that depicts Gandhi walking with a stick and wearing a lion cloth.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"True music...must repeat the thought and inspirations of the people and the time. My people are Americans. My time is today."

George Gershwin (1898-1937)

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Union Square Park Weather

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