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Executive Director Report

Landmarks Big & Small

Sense of Place, Sense of Ourselves

By Bruce Coons

The built environment shapes our lives on a daily basis. You may or may not be fully conscious of the influence that the little bungalow on your street or the historic site on the way to work, store or your favorite restaurant exerts over you. Or how it adds immeasurably to your enjoyment of the place you live, helps bring a feeling of well being and maybe a little smile each time you see them.

However, the acute sense of loss when one of these sites is missing is something few are immune to. This has come home to us much too clearly with the recent events in New York and Washington. In addition to the horrific unprecedented loss of life, the loss of the World Trade Center towers meant a great deal to people in ways that they had not thought much about before. Many of their lives were lived out in the shadow of these buildings, their plans were made in reference to them "Meet me at One WTC and we can go from there," "It's a block from the WTC," I have a view of the WTC from my new apartment." Many said that they felt comfort from their presence, a feeling of permanence, of something lasting.

When they were gone the sense of loss was overwhelming. Some said they did not know how to relate to the city anymore, lives had been mapped out in relation to the towers. Some said I met my wife at or near the towers. One man interviewed said "I see them still, it will be a scar in the sky forever."

Even though some of our lost landmarks may not have dominated our city the way that the World Trade Center did for New York, nonetheless they loom large in the consciousness of those that knew them. I can not pass the site of the Klauber House on Sixth Avenue without feeling an acute sense of loss and seeing the "scar in the sky." Threats to our landmarks come from many different sources and that makes it all the more important to preserve what is left. I know I speak for many that the loss of places like The Old Police Headquarters, among others, would produce another terrible "scar in the sky." I believe we have too many already.

2001 - Volume 32, Issue 4

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Contributors to Success


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