Addiction in Society

Addiction—the thematic malady for our society—entails every type of psychological and societal problem

The Women Who Saved New York

Two women preserved old New York in the sixties.
imageOne woman responded to my post, The Bravery of Michelle Obama: "For the first time in my adult life, I can actually say I look up to a woman as a hero. Modern women heroes tend to be celebrities. What have they really accomplished?" But in the 1960s, two women preserved New York so that all Americans can appreciate the city today. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Jane Jacobs differed in background, personality, and demeanor. Nonetheless, the soft-spoken Onassis and the out-there Jacobs both stepped forward to rescue their neighborhoods and what they (and we) love about New York.

If you buy a book about what New York has lost, it will feature Penn Station - the magnificent railroad complex completed in 1910 by the legendary architecture firm, McKim, Mead, and White. It's haunting, vaulting steel and glass train shed; its immense (7 acre) waiting room - the largest indoor space in New York; its monumental Roman columned entrance; were stunning to behold and captured the imaginations of New Yorkers and countless writers and filmmakers.

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Captured them, that is, for the first half of the last century. New York's Penn Station was demolished in 1963 - to be replaced by the current atrocious Madison Square Garden. The demolition caused international outrage and left a permanent scar on the psyche of New York. There was at the time no architectural or historical preservation regulation in New York - or the United States.

Across town from Penn Station stands Grand Central Station, which was completed in 1913. Equally stupendous to Penn Station, its immense concourse centers around the information desk, signalled by a clock with four opal faces. (I have calculated that a billiion assignations have occured beneath this clock, one or two of which I contributed myself.) In 1998, the main concourse's original ceiling decoration - a painted astronomical map with astrological figures - was restored after a 12-year effort, creating a panoramic vision from the station's floor. Grand Central is the most magnificent interior space in the United States.

Stanton Peele, PhD, JD, is the author of Recover! He has been a pioneer in the addiction field since publication of Love and Addiction in 1975.

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