- The two dozen photos below were taken Friday evening, September 28, 2018, at Liberty Park [a/k/a Gateway Plaza], when a small, protest “photo rally” was held, centered on a Silhouette of the Statue of Liberty. The Silhouette Lady was a poor, two-dimensional stand-in for our missing replica Statue of Lady Liberty. The Statue had been standing in Liberty Park since 1950, and was removed for its protection during construction, in August 2017, due to the re-design of Liberty Park and its expansion into Gateway Plaza.
- The Final Report of the City of Schenectady Gateway Plaza Implementation Plan called for the return of Lady Liberty after the completion of construction, which was accomplished in Spring of 2018. (Lady Liberty was even shown in the Plan’s cover sketch.) For a full discussion, see https://tinyurl.com/TimelessLiberty .
Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation and Schenectady County cancelled their event “Groovin’@Gateway” [page removed by DSIC], with no public statement that it was being cancelled. Nevertheless, a dozen lovers of Lady Liberty and Her Park gathered at Liberty Park around 6 P.M. on Friday, September 28, 2018. DSIC’s Executive Director Jim Salengo called me on his own initiative for the first time late Wednesday morning, September 26. Salengo told me they had, despite all of the hard surfaces at the Park/Plaza for vendors and the public, already decided to cancel the event because he feared the grass/lawns/field would be too soggy. (DSIC has been cutting the grass at the new Plaza, according to Mr. Salengo.) It did rain on Thursday and for much of Friday morning, but the forecasted sun did a great job drying out all the grassy areas. Jim also told me he had not heard I was planning a Rally for Lady Liberty until I mentioned it during that phone conversation.
. . above: [L] Silhouette Statue of Liberty with sign bearing the theme of the Photo-Rally (click on the image for a larger version); [R] Silhouette standing at the center of the Park’s still-empty Modern Sculpture fixture, which was the approximate original location of Schenectady’s replica Statue of Liberty. The Silhouette is only 76″ tall, and has no pedestal. The replica Statue is 100″ high, and had a pedestal 7′ tall.
above: Silhouette Lady stands at the location designated by the Final Gateway Plaza Implementation Plan for the return of Lady Liberty, along State Street, near the CDTA bus shelter. To the right is a detail from a Final Plan rendering depicting Lady Liberty returned at that location.
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. . . For a larger version of an image in the Slideshow below, pause on the photo, right-click, and choose View Image in a New Tab.
As you can see from the Slideshow, it was a lovely early-autumn evening at Liberty Park, and everyone seemed to be in a good mood, including the friendly patrolman. As happens whenever I speak with strangers in Liberty/Gateway Park, there was enthusiastic support for our position demanding the return of Lady Liberty. More than once I heard, “but there’s so much room here for the statue.” My handout photo of Lady Liberty in her Park in September 2016 was much in demand at the bus stop:
BTW: Happily, the largest and grandest tree survived the redesign of Liberty Park.
Had the Groovin’@Gateway event been held Friday evening, we would have celebrated the new public space, and done some gentle advocacy on behalf of Lady Liberty. Whether Plaza patrons and revelers were warmed with craft brews or not, I have no doubt “conversions” to our cause would have come readily, AND no one would have come up with a reasonable excuse for not returning Lady Liberty to her Home.
Frankly, because designer Mary Wallinger no longer wants the Statue in “her” Plaza; or because the Mayor and Chairman Gillen want to please Mary; are not good enough reasons. Common sense, public support, historic preservation principles, and the integrity of the public planning process and the City Council review and approval process (Resolution No. 2013-206), all cry out for the return of the replica Statue of Liberty to her home of 67 years.
In a Time Union article last March: Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy told reporter Paul Nelson: “I’m sure whatever decision I make that Mr. Giacalone will be opposed to it.” The article also stated that the Mayor “will soon make his final decision public.” Six and a half months later, Mayor McCarthy is still saying he has no statement on Lady Liberty’s fate, but “has something in the works.” Of course, with no engineering or other safety issue, and no financial crisis to blame, there should be no decision to make: Execute the Plan, don’t kill it.
Mr. Mayor, you can make Mr. Giacalone and many others very happy by simply saying, “Of course, we will fulfill the Implementation Plan and return the Statue to Liberty Park, her home.” What he should “have in the works” is some funding for the Veterans Memorial at Steinmetz Park, and an apology to the good people of Goose Hill for raising their hopes that a City-wide treasure would be moving to their Park.
The cardboard Silhouette Statue was a pale representation of our real Lady Liberty Friday evening, but seeing it at what the Plan called the “Central Sculpture and Seating” area, on or very close to the Statue’s original location, makes it clear to me that the Lady would look and feel fine at that location. Last March, we noted at this website:
- Every public comment about the Liberty statue was positive for keeping her at the Plaza (App. G, at 94, 110 of the Final Report), with notable support to make Her more prominent, keeping Lady Liberty at her original location in the renovated “urban plaza” area.
Mary Wallinger or DSIC staff should have noticed that for much of the day, there are CDTA buses blocking the view of the spot next to the Bus Shelter from State Street. So, putting Lady Liberty on the still empty sculpture fixture, which should feel like Home, should be fully considered, to give Her the prominence she deserve. The replica is 100″ tall (Lawrence the Indian is 66″) and could command that space, even on a pedestal shorter than her original 7-foot pedestal.
- A portion of the funds saved not buying another “modern sculpture” piece (the three rusted girders apparently cost $20,000) could surely be used for the Steinmetz Park Veterans Memorial.
Finally, as has been said before at this site:
The excuse that Lady Liberty is not contemporary enough for that Plaza is simply silly. Designer Wallinger embraced keeping the Statue in the new Park/Plaza throughout the design process. There is no symbol that better fulfills the Implementation Plan’s goal of “celebrating our past, present, and future.” Lady Liberty is Timeless.
p.s. Does anybody think the youngest and eldest members of the Schenectady community want Lady Liberty exiled for her failure to ooze the contemporary spirit? “Contemporary” often means “temporary,” but — as we like to say — in America Liberty is timeless.
. . above and below “contemporary enough Plaza fixtures” . .