Calvert Vaux Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, December 31, 2001


Since 1994 Parks has engaged in an unprecedented initiative to document the history of parkland in every borough and share this information with the public on site, online, and through our public library. In August 2001 we reached our goal: the 2001st historical sign was drafted. On Wednesday, December 26, the 2001st sign, which describes the history of a monument to the ship Maine, was installed outside Central Park’s Merchants Gate. Did you know that Manhattan’s East River Park was built on landfill made from the rubble of the London Blitz? Did you know that Dreier-Offerman Park in Brooklyn started out as a one-acre park? Years later Robert Moses added soil excavated for the construction of the Verrazano Bridge and the park’s acreage multiplied by forty. Portions of the Maine Monument, where Wednesday’s ceremony took place, are cast in bronze recovered from the guns of the ship it commemorates, a ship whose explosion in the harbor of Havana, Cuba precipitated the Spanish-American War. Four days after the ship sank, the New York Morning Journal, published by William Randolph Hearst, solicited funds for a monument to the 258 soldiers who perished on board. "When the story of a space is told, its identity becomes specific—and therefore valuable—in the mind of neighborhood residents," Commissioner Stern explained to a crowd on Wednesday. "We name our parks, we write their biographies in historical signs and post them at park entrances and beside monuments, in ravines and historic houses. It works. Everyday we receive thousands of requests for information. The historical signs equip us to answer these in detail." The drive to complete this ambitious project involved individuals from all over the agency. Students were drafted to write and research signs. Commissioners were recruited to edit them. ParksEproduction team worked overtime to manufacture signs, and field crews doggedly installed them. As a collection, the 2,001 historical signs tell a vivid history of New York City as seen through the lens of public spaces. Special recognition for the completion of this unique project goes to Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern; Adrian (A-Train) Benepe, Manhattan Borough Commissioner; Jonathan (Archive) Kuhn, Director of Art and Antiquities; Chris (Boswell Croswell) Osgood, Commissioner Stern’s Chief of Staff; Dan (Frolic) Froehlich, Deputy Chief of Operations; Kate (Chama) Clark, Librarian and Historical Signs Coordinator; Scott (Canyon) Sendrow, Parks Historian; John (Sgt. Pepper) Mattera, Head Signs Writer; and Joe Ferlazzo, Senior Library Intern. Park Managers and Signs Coordinators in every borough and Historical Signs Interns and the Parkies at 5-Boro were indispensible to this project. Congratulations to all on reaching the finish line. LET 2,001 GARDENS BLOOM Today, 2,001 greenstreets brighten New York’s streetscape. On Friday, the lucky 2001st, a greenstreet at Christopher Street, Waverly Place, and 7th Avenue South, received a ceremonial watering to mark its completion. The 0.5-acre property is, today, a native plant garden, filled with lilac trees, evergreen shrubs, yellow cinquefoil, and narcissus flowers, each of which bloom at a different time of year. The greenstreet is a garden for all seasons where nature and city coexist. Collaboration enables the Greenstreets program to exist. The Department of Transportation helps Parks identify sites and prepare them for planting. Community businesses and organizations adopt individual sites, committing to care for them in partnership with Parks. The completion of 2,001 greenstreets called on the resources of Parkies from all over the agency. Commissioners and Chiefs and their staff were perpetually on the lookout for possible sites. The leadership of Fiona (Treetop) Watt, Bram (Dogwood) Gunther, Gail (Edelweiss) Wittwer-Laird, Karen (Atlanta) Mauney-Brodek, and the excellent work of their staff was essential to the creation of this magnificent collection of 2,001. Congratulations, greenthumbs! THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT (Monday, January 9, 1989) POLAR BEARS TO INVADE ORCHARD BEACH Cold enough for you? Not for some people...or rather, some polar bears. Commissioner Stern and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer invite all hardy New Yorkers to join them at Pelham Bay Park’s Orchard Beach on Sunday, January 15 at Noon to witness the annual winter swim of the brave and daring members of the Polar Bear Club. Festivities will begin on the steps of the Pavilion at Section 9. Attendees will then follow the Polar Bears to the shoreline. QUOTATION FOR THE DAY "Every day speaks a new scene; the last act crowns the play." Francis Quarles (1592-1644)

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