Man pushes to preserve Lindbergh monument

Westbury resident Adam Sackowitz is pushing hard for the Lindbergh monument to gain state or federal historic status so that it will be out of danger when The Source mall in Westbury changes hands. Videojournalist: Patrick Whittle (Aug. 23, 2012)

Westbury resident Adam Sackowitz is pushing hard for the Lindbergh monument to gain state or federal historic status so that it will be out of danger when The Source mall in Westbury changes hands. Videojournalist: Patrick Whittle (Aug. 23, 2012)

advertisement | advertise on newsday

When Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field to begin the world's first solo and nonstop trans-Atlantic flight, the famed Spirit of St. Louis barely cleared telephone wires near the runway's end.

Lindbergh would have an even more difficult time taking off Friday, as the site of his ascent is surrounded by heavy development, including the 733,000-square-foot Mall at The Source -- mere feet from where Lucky Lindy took off.

A small stone monument to Lindbergh at the spot -- the easily overlooked intersection of Transverse Drive and Fortunoff Way, next to the mall's parking lot -- is the subject of a preservation drive by a Westbury history buff.

Adam Sackowitz, a 20-year-old Hofstra University American studies major, is pushing for an official historic designation of the East Garden City monument and the site.

The monument is on the property of the Source mall, which is up for auction, and Sackowitz said he is concerned that the property's future owner might not maintain the monument.

"That's the spot where Charles Lindbergh took off to go to Paris. That event, unlike any other event outside of the Wright brothers, changed aviation history," Sackowitz said.

The monument -- which depicts the Spirit of St. Louis and the flight path Lindbergh began on May 20, 1927 -- was built about 15 years ago by the Fortunoff family, whose flagship home retail store was located nearby until 2009, said Joshua Stoff, curator of the Cradle of Aviation Museum.

Sackowitz, a local history buff, said he has contacted local, state and federal officials about getting historic protections for the monument.

He said the effort dovetails with the Long Island Aviation Act, a bill that seeks federal recognition for Long Island's contributions to aviation history and was formally introduced in the House of Representatives last month by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola).

Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said they are also working to protect the site. The town will unveil details of its preservation plan at the site Friday at 11 a.m., officials said.

The Source mall, which has debts beyond its value, according to public records, will be auctioned off Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., according to State Supreme Court in Nassau.

A spokeswoman for mall owner Simon Property Group said there are "no future plans" for the monument and declined to comment further.

Sackowitz said he hopes the monument's future is brighter than that of the mall that casts a shadow on it.

"People have no clue" the monument exists, Sackowitz said. "I'd like to see more there explaining and interpreting the site where Lindbergh took off."

With Maura McDermott

The best of Newsday every day in your inbox. Get the Newsday Now newsletter!

Comments

Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: