New Yorkers gathered at the now-shuttered 35 Cooper Square last night for a candlelight vigil and voiced their opinions on the fate of what’s to come for the “oldest building on historic Cooper Square.” We spoke with David Mulkins, the chair of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, who told us that he “feels very strongly that the landmarks preservation commission landmark this building.” He continued, “Even if they even just called a hearing on it, it would give immediate protection for the building.” Earlier this month, the residents seemed annoyed; now they’re angrier and more committed to their cause than ever before.
Pete Hamill, a legendary local writer, made an unexpected appearance and the most rousing speech of the night. Hamill was sitting in 20 Cooper Square, the NYU Journalism building and came out to talk to the protesters. “The vandalism being done to this building is enough to make any real New Yorker want to throw up,” Hamill said.
He provided the oldest outlook on the building’s future and perhaps the most poignant: “The notion that they didn’t landmark this building is an example of failure on a level that I think affects everyone who’s here tonight, people out there, people not yet born who will never see this place and not know what happened on this amazing street which I remember when the trains went down here.”
We spoke with Hettie Jones at the last 35 Coop protest and we were delighted to see her speak at last night’s vigil.
She criticized the building’s commission for not recognizing the impact of a tall building on the public plaza that’s planned for Cooper Square. (“There won’t be any sun for the park!”) Jones also said that tearing down the building would be a missed opportunity for students at the high school being built on the Bowery. “Why won’t they be able to see history instead of looking at it in a textbook?” Jones asked.
A Bowery resident herself, she added the personal quip, “When the tour buses stop here they say ‘Look ladies and gentlemen, this is quintessential New York: the old and the new.’ But that’s just sentimental. You have to work very hard to keep that old in there.”
Perhaps the reason Villagers are so angry and dedicated to the cause can be summed up by this simple picture: