Celebrating a Local Centennial
In fact, the organization will be commemorating a commemoration of a world tragedy: the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. She was bound for our city on that maiden voyage and aboard were illustrious New Yorkers including Bloomingdale residents (2747 Broadway) Ida Straus and her husband Isidor, an owner of Macy's. That fateful night, Ida chose to remain behind and stay aboard with her husband when she was offered a seat in one of the lifeboats: "I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die, together." And so they did.
Three years later, the city dedicated Straus Park to their memory (below). Looking back and reading contemporaneous accounts, I get the feeling that the memorial was as much in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Straus's mutual devotion as it was in defense of New York's successful men who were seen as "grasping and lack[ing] a spirit of sympathy and social service" according to a New York Times piece. Interestingly this was also the time of the Revenue Act of 1913 reinstating the Federal Income Tax, which would have considerably hampered "New York's successful men." But I digress.
Fifty-nine designs were submitted, with the winning submission receiving $10,000. Architect Evart Tracy and sculptor Augustus Lukeman won the competition to design the Straus Memorial. Evart said: "we have sought to make the peaceful spirit of the monument and the tiny pool in front of it the one dominating note—an eternal peace that runs through the spirit of the world deeper than its turmoil." I'd say they fairly well succeeeded!
And so have Friends of Straus Park who now maintain plantings and support gardening of this park in the spirit in which the park was designed. It is thanks to the Friends of Straus Park that a centennial fête for this triangular oasis will take place on Saturday, October 3rd. It's an all-day affair called "Art in the Park." From 10 am to 5 pm, there will be art of all sorts (think jewelry, photographs, paintings...). There's also music and food planned. And at noon, neighbors will commemorate this park's centennial.
When you are done here, amble down West End Avenue to West 104th Street for a rollicking good yard sale put on by our friends at the West 104th Street Block Association.
It's bound to be a beautiful day in the neighborhood. And we have our very own peaceful park in which to contemplate it.