WASHINGTON SQUARE ARCH: A TRIUMPH
Illustrious New Yorkers from the Mayor's office, Parks, the Municipal Art Society, New York University, and Community Board Two gathered on Thursday, August 16, at the terminus of Fifth Avenue to pay tribute to an emblem of New York City: the Washington Square Arch.
From the day it opened, the arch was destined for renovation. Built with vulnerable, Tuckahoe marble, the arch has endured a lifetime of weathering, water seepage, pollutants, birds, and aggressive treatments. Today, in an aggravated symbol of the arch's decline, the faces of George Washington are ravaged. For more than a generation this national and city landmark has languished in need of support. Recently, a combination of public and private funds has jumpstarted restoration.
The spectrum of supporters in the campaign to restore Washington Square Arch bears testament to the sweep of its influence. Mayor Giuliani has contributed more than $1.5 million, the City Council has committed $1.2 million, and the Manhattan Borough President has pledged $200,000 to the restoration. The campaign has received more than $80,000 from private citizens, and funds are being solicited toward an endowment. The original construction of the arch, completed at a cost of $130,000, was likewise blessed with citizen support. The majority of its money was privately raised through individual gifts of less than $100. The largest gift was $4,500 raised in a benefit concert by the Polish pianist and composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The very existence of the arch is evidence of the power of public and private contributions in combination with one another.
The Washington Square Council/Parents for Playgrounds, the Washington Square Association, the Washington Square Coalition, Community Board Two, and New York University all assist in the upkeep and programming of Washington Square Park. The City Parks Foundation's Monuments Conservation Program, which is organizing the fundraising campaign, has enabled Parks to conserve monuments around New York City including Washington Square Park's Garibaldi.
In 1895 when Mayor Strong formally accepted the arch on behalf of New York City, he commented, "it is with peculiar pleasure that I pass today to the President of the Park Board of the City of New York the key, knowing well that the interest he took in creating this beautiful arch will ever remind him of his duty not only to guard carefully this structure, but to see that its surroundings will ever be kept in the purest and most beautiful manner, and in a way appropriate to the character of George Washington whom it commemorates." Parks has begun to fulfill that charge, one century old.
THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT
(Friday, August 19, 1988)
RETURN TO ISLAND OF THE BIRDS
David Kunstler, a Wildlife Management Specialist for Van Cortlandt and Pelham Bay Parks, visits 13-acre Huckleberry Island off the shore of New Rochelle every summer. The island is the nesting ground of thousands of waterfowl that feed in the mudflats, salt marshes and shores of Pelham Bay Park. And this year, Kunstler reports, it seems to have become the home of a new breed of bird.
Kunstler led two trips to Huckleberry Island in June with members of the Queens College Center in Museum in Caumsett State Park and the Nature Conservancy. They found many of the species that have been sighted there since 1986, including Great and Snowy Egrets, Herring, and Great Black-backed Gulls, and the Black-crowned Night Heron. The biggest surprise was a sighting of a young Cattle Egret. In 1987 there were only four Cattle Egret colonies in the New York and Long Island area.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honored of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untraveled world."
Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)