Volume 80, Number 1 | June 2-8, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Flashback

Koch warns Union Sq. dealers; Development ‘torments’ Village

The June 2, 1960, issue of The Villager cited an article in a then-recently uncovered issue of The Illustrated News, from 1853. The article, then already over 100 years old, now more than 150 years old, claimed, “Never, since the good old days of Diedrich Knickerbocker, have the citizens of Gotham been so tormented with new buildings as at present… this never ends… in the bitterness of the moment we swear solemnly to ourselves that we will remove to New Jersey or to some other foreign country. Then some good or evil spirit whispers that a reaction must eventually check this inordinate building mania.”

In its May 30, 1985, issue, The Villager reported that Union Square Park was reopened after renovations intended to put an end to its “role as a widely recognized drug supermarket.” The “Victorian style” subway entrances and lampposts were added, along with benches, flowers and shrubs. Mayor Ed Koch gave a warning to miscreants during a speech at the park’s reopening, saying, “If you engage in the sale or purchase of narcotics in this park now you will get special attention from the police.’”

A cartoon in the same issue made light of Mayor Koch’s conviction that a heightened police presence in Union Square would curb the city’s drug problem, depicting a shadowy figure responding to the emphatic “Never again will dealers push drugs here… Never again! Never again!” with “Looks like I’ll have to keep scoring in Washington Sq. Park for a while… .”

The newspaper reported that New York University would hold its commencement ceremony on June 6, 1985, in Washington Square Park — it would be the 10th commencement N.Y.U. held in the square. Governor Mario Cuomo would be on hand.

The same issue noted that the Greenwich Village Coalition Against Nuclear Arms was sponsoring a forum discussion about how to put a stop to a proposed plan to locate nuclear cruise missiles in New York Harbor.

Lilly O’Donnell


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