As Long Islanders in recent months have protested developments of all sorts from Glen Cove to Sayville and Syosset to Dix Hills, it’s worth looking back to see how deeply ingrained “no” is in our regional DNA.
More than 60 years ago, one such years-long battle was waged in Garden City — over a library. On May 3, 1952, Newsday’s editorial board noted that the war finally was won. Garden City would finally have a library, then the very last incorporated village in the state to get one.
“Opposition to it has been astounding, and no credit to the community,” the board wrote.
The library, which was scheduled to open the following day, was a testament to the perseverance of its supporters. Library board president Mrs. Walter W. Allen, as she was identified per the custom of the time, headed a group of women who raised funds by conducting cake sales and baby-sitting, which the editorial board said demonstrated “a civic spirit and a degree of intelligence well above official and political par in the only cathedral town in America.”
In all, the women collected 4,000 books and raised $11,000, enough to open the library. Anyone, the board wrote, “should be impressed at the way Mrs. Allen’s committee has scored against stigmatic vision in the village.”
Sixty-six years later, the Garden City Public Library is alive and well. So is the region’s stigmatic vision.