|Map of Little Syria|
Today yours truly has a follow up to a story that Blogger posted last week on the Washington Street Historical Society's effort to gain recognition for the Little Syria community, "Shedding Light On Hidden History" (01/27/16). Blogger sent an email to Todd Fine, the director of Project Khalid and president of the Washington Street Historical Society. (http://www.savewashingtonstreet.org) Mr. Fine is spearheading the campaign to preserve the community's history. In his reply, Mr. Fine expressed his frustration over the National September 11 Memorial and Museum's attempts to exclude any mention of Little Syria and mentioned efforts to install a public art piece, dedicated to Little Syria. Mr. Fine also sent a link to an article, published in the New York Times a little over two years ago. The article, "As Plaza Is Named for Champion of Downtown, Talk of a New Park," by David W. Dunlap. The article looks at how the Hugh L. Carey Brooklyn-Battery became a green space, something long advocated by the Downtown Alliance. it also discusses the ongoing initiative of the Washington Street Historical Society to gain recognition for this immigrant community.
|Elizabeth H. Berger|
|National September 11 Memorial and Museum Pavilion|
Manhattan, New York
William Bernstein, then-acting president and chief executive of the alliance added,
You could have Lower Manhattan's biggest open space north of Bowling Green and south of the 9/11 Memorial...necklace of green space, upward from the Battery.
In 2009, Ms. Berger and other supporters proposed "...rerouting the tunnel exit joining the two small islands-currently maintained as landscaped open spaces under the parks department's Greenstreets program-to create a more engaging, usable and parklike open space with square." The renaming ceremony were encouraged when Mr. Castro publicly acknowledged George P. Vellnakis, the landscape architect with the parks agency, for drawing up the preliminary plans for the new park Mr. Dunlap noted, "The agency has $2.5 million to cover the project."
|Elizabeth H. Berger Plaza naming ceremony|
Photograph by David W. Dunlap
At the time, the Transportation Department issued a statement saying that it was
looking into a traffic analysis that will study the effects of rerouting traffic around the new proposed space.
Further, Mr. Bernstein could not speculate, at the time, of how the incoming administration of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio would address the proposal. Regardless, Lower Manhattan was on the radar of then-chairperson of Mr. de Blasio's transition team, Carl Weisbod, former prudent of the Downtown Alliance. Anthony e. Shorris, then-designated first deputy mayor, served as consultant for the alliance in 2003. The Downtown Alliance manages the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Business Improvement District. In 2009, the BID issued a report, "Five Principles for Greenwich South," which focused on "...a trapezium-shaped area on the west side that includes much of what was once an Arab-American neighborhood called Little Syria."
|"The Syrian Colony, Washington Street"|
|"Little Syria, NY An Immigrant's Community Life & Legacy"|
The plaques and a sign identifying community history was unveiled in October 2013. Todd Fine, the president of the WSHS enthused that the event ...brought together a beautiful rainbow of people who embody what made the Washington Street neighborhood so great. However, Mr. Fine said he was quite insulted that Little Syria's advocates were not invited to the plaza renaming ceremony, nor consulted on the renaming of the Edgar Street Greenstreet. Mr. Fine told Mr. Dunlap, We have put into that park.
|Berger Plaza today|