Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy had our replica statue of Lady Liberty dumped last summer at the corner of Erie Boulevard and Union Street, next to a train trestle and among a forest of poles. At the time, we wrote “McCarthy disses Lady Liberty (and all of us) again” (August 28, 2019), a posting with photos of the dreadful spot and a summary of the sad saga of our Statue.
So stunned was I by the Mayor’s brazen insult to his City and its history, it was only recently that I realized Lady Liberty stood in exile with no plaque commemorating the source and spirit behind the Statue, when it was placed in its real home in 1950 and for the next 67 years. See the collage at the head of the posting, which shows the plaque attached to the original pedestal; the image to the left depicts the current situation; and here is the plaque itself:
Here is our description, from a posting in March 2018, of how Lady Liberty came to Schenectady and her original location:
Lady Liberty, a 100-inch tall replica of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, came to Schenectady as part of a 1950 Boy Scouts of America program. Local Boy Scouts across the City and County saved up the $350 to purchase the statue. It stood in Liberty Park, which was later named for the replica of Lady Liberty, until it was put into storage (in August 2017) to protect the statue during the reconfiguration and reconstruction of Liberty Park, as it was expanded into Gateway Plaza.
In a 2012 Schenectady Gazette article, the story of our Lady Liberty is told through the eyes of several local Boy Scouts from the troop that met at St. Anthony’s Church, and worked to save up the $350 to purchase the sculpture in 1950. “Lady Liberty replica has 62-year-old story to tell” (by Bethany Bump, Jan. 15, 2012; emphasis added).
It was an endeavor that dovetailed nicely with the Scouts’ basic mission: prepare youth to be responsible and participating citizens and leaders. And there was no better symbol of leadership and American citizenship than Lady Liberty.
. . . Just like the 305-foot-tall national monument in New York Harbor, Schenectady’s lady offers an inspirational message: “With the faith and courage of their forefathers who made possible the freedom of these United States, the Boy Scouts of America dedicate this copy of the Statue of Liberty as a pledge of everlasting fidelity and loyalty.”
- Also, see the commentary at Waymarking.com .
Somehow, our Mayor, who now trumpets all sorts of minor craft projects as symbols of community enthusiasm, did not see fit to honor or commemorate the spirit that brought Lady Liberty to our City, or the decades thereafter of annual rededication ceremonies. An indication of its importance can be seen in our description of the day the statue was dedicated:
Dedication Day. The procrastination of our current Mayor and his carefree attitude toward Lady Liberty, her proponents, and the Planning and legislative process, is in stark contrast to the importance of the Statue to the City at the time of its Dedication. The [News10 Special Report on the plight of the Replica] shows the front page of the Schenectady Gazette on November 9, 1950, and the prominence given the story. The article states that 2500 scouts and scouters marched in a parade to the Park, with a crowd of 3,500 persons overflowing the small park for the dedication ceremony. Then Mayor Owen M. Begley called it a “beautiful, beautiful gift,” commenting that the replica here will be a great emblem in Schenectady of our great heritage of liberty.”
Where is the Boy Scouts of America plaque that once enhanced our Liberty replica? Can it be cleaned and restored and be joined again with the Statue? Or, has it been sold for scrap or secreted away to the den of a City Hall staffer? I hope someone on our City Council will investigate and then fight to bring back the plaque or, if necessary, have a suitable replacement made and installed, either at the (temporary) Trestle site of Schenectady’s Lady Liberty, or at Liberty-Gateway Plaza, where She was always expected and promised to be returned.
An apology to the Scouts who worked to bring the Lady to Schenectady would also be most appropriate.
. . this photo-opEd is still most relevant . .
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. . Lady Liberty seen at her dismal new location during the 2020 Schenectady Soup Stroll