Category: Archive

Echo Editorial: Local heroes

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The footage allows us to see America stuck in time at war’s end; the folks with their hats and long coats, many of them smoking, a good number in uniform, aren’t actors nor are they extras, they’re just ordinary New Yorkers en route somewhere that day in 1945. One of the buildings, Grand Central Terminal, seems exactly the same 60 years on, though of course, it has had a paint job since. The other one simply disappeared. The destruction of the old Pennsylvania Station to make way for Madison Square Garden is considered one of the great blunders in the story of New York. That was in 1964. Grand Central almost went the same way a few years later. In those years, administrators, bureaucrats and accountants made the economic case for destruction; architects and activist-citizens, as well as artists and writers, made the esthetic and the human case for preservation.
The narrative will seem familiar to anyone who’s followed the St. Brigid’s controversy. Tomorrow, we may finally find out if the 158-year-old Famine church will go the way of Pennsylvania Station or whether it will win reprieve and new life like Grand Central Terminal.
A group of hardy parishioners and activist-citizens have kept up the fight in their different ways for some time now: people like Edwin Torres, Carolyn Ratcliffe, Patti Kelly, Mary Gleeson, Paul Dougherty and Jerome O’Connor. And whatever way the decision goes, history will judge them kindly.

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