Have you ever gotten bored in class… like, really, really bored… so bored that there’s nothing to do but stare at that same poster your teacher has had up all year? That was me in high school in many classes, but my Advanced Placement Psychology class was the worst of all.
I’d sit in the very back, and look around at the different posters my teacher had hung of the bears in California (he went to college there) or different sights in New York. One that always stood out to me was the photo of Grand Central Station before the skyscrapers were built around it. It was taken around 1929, decades and decades before the idea of knocking it down was brought up.
See, in 1964 the neighboring New York subway station was demolished to be made into the new, and slightly disgusting, Pennsylvania Station. This caused national and international outrage, with the architectural historian Vincent Scully commenting, “one entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat.”
With that job done, the architects turned their sights to Grand Central Station. Protestors, disheartened with what happened with the late Penn Station, refused to let another building go. But, it was Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis who stood among the protestors, echoing their voice onto a national stage.
Now, a plaque hangs inside the terminal which tells more about how prevalent and involved Onassis was in the movement.
With her help, they were able to save this beloved station. But, even Onassis couldn’t stop the skyscrapers from building upward making that gorgeous photo unreplicable for future years.
This story has particular prominence today. Watching President Trump announce Amy Coney Barrett for Associate Supreme Court Justice, it was hard to distinguish from where he was speaking.
My friends and I looked over at each other guessing different prominent White House announcement spots, before the camera panned out and it was obvious the spot was the Rose Garden.
Why it took us so long to recognize this iconic space, where news conferences, Olympic athlete meetings and even the wedding of Richard Nixon’s daughter Tricia were held, isn’t a surprise.
First Lady Melania Trump spent this summer redoing the garden. She removed all of the trees that the late Kennedy had put up during the most well-known, and longest-lasting construction of the garden in 1962.
Thus, Trump’s reconstruction caused some national outrage. Especially in her removal of ten crab apple trees planted by Kennedy.
The new garden is quite plain compared to what once was, it lacks the vibrancy of the previous rose garden. It’s hard to even call this garden the same name as what it once was, as so much of Kennedy’s original light has been completely covered over with strict, clean marble and sharp lines.
If only we could’ve saved this entity as Kennedy did for Grand Central Station. Instead, we have a garden that doesn’t stand out among the crowd and watching a message be delivered from there lacks the same excitement as before.