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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Father Demo Square

This was the ceremony for the eagerly awaited reopening of the newly renovated "vest pocket" park at Father Demo Square. Although this park space may appear small and inconsequential, park spaces large or small are very important to the fabric of the city - these urban oases provide the only outdoor space most New Yorkers ever see. The park is also at a very strategic location - one of the busiest intersections in the Village. The triangular park is bounded by 6th Avenue (Avenue of the Americas), Bleecker Street and Carmine Street. The square is named after Father Antonio Demo (1870-1936) who was pastor of the neighboring Our Lady of Pompeii Church in 1935. Residential buildings also flank the park - many visitors forget that there are residents live amidst all this, so apart from the physical deterioration and much needed repair, one of the concerns was crowd control. Historically people were in this park all hours; the homeless started setting up home, performers attracted enormous audiences, noise, revelry and fights were common. Hence the decision to include a 3-foot high perimeter fence to the design. The renovations were overseen by the Parks Department (with George Vellonakis was the landscape architect) and David Gruber, local resident, real estate developer and president of the Carmine Street Block Association. The renovation included decorative tiles, a new fountain, trees and flower beds. The $1.3 million dollar project took somewhat longer than anticipated - there were additional issues involved since the park was located over the 6th avenue subway lines. The ceremony, which included live music, was presided over by David Gruber. Attending were Borough Park president Scott Stringer, the pastor of neighboring Our Lady of Pompeii Church, NYPD sixth precinct commander Theresa Shortell (the sole female police precinct commander in New York) and the general contractor for the project. I also recognized a number of local community activists. For reasons unknown, the Parks Commission decided to cancel their attendance at the last minute. Word has it they plan an official ribbon cutting in a couple of months ...

9 comments:

Lavenderlady said...

Great captures of those in attenddance. I love the discussion going on between the Father and the gentleman with the tie. Great photos.

Curly said...

Parks and recreational spaces are so undervalued in urban communities, although there importance in New York is probably heightened. It's been a while since I last visited Brian and once again I've enjoyed the trip, the picture of the clock in the Waldorf Astoria kind of sticks in the mind as being memorable.

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Doug said...

My family loves NY, we have to get back. Haven't visited since my son ran in the NYC Marathon in 2003. I like the photo of the gum on the sidewalk. It reminds me of Greenville, Ohio. There's a hamburger shop call Made Rite, where it is tradition to stick your gum on the wall of the drive through.

talj said...

I have long been a fan of your beautiful city and cant wait for the day I can visit again! For now I will settle for the wonderful photos and stories you share here in your blog!

Elliot said...

These are great photos. Father Demo Square offers a bit of tranquility in the middle of the city.

Anonymous said...

I was one of the engineers who worked on the project. I feel happy and proud when I see the pictures.

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MusicLover said...

I always found it interesting that Father Demo Square is a . . . triangle.

Anonymous said...

Probably the closest to feeling like being at a Roman piazza in New York. The three tiered fountain is classicly simple but yet post post-modern in its dark beauty.

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