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Editorial: Lindbergh's flight mustn't be forgotten

The monument to Charles Lindbergh's flight from Roosevelt

The monument to Charles Lindbergh's flight from Roosevelt Field is located at the spot from which Lindbergh started his trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, which is now situated next to a garage at the Source mall in Garden City. Credit: Julia Gaines

Our region's major shopping destination is called Roosevelt Field, not Roosevelt Mall, for a very good reason. The builders of it during the postwar boom were very aware of the spot's place in history, a spot used by adventurers, dreamers and schemers.

This history is worth preserving for posterity.

It was from Roosevelt Field that one of history's most famous flights took off on the morning of May 20, 1927, piloted by an unknown Charles Lindbergh. The wheels of the Spirit of St. Louis barely cleared tractors and telephones lines as it climbed into the sky, landing in Paris more than 30 hours later. Lindbergh made the first fixed-wing trans-Atlantic flight, a feat that established the nation's, and Long Island's, primacy in the nascent aviation industry.

So Supervisor Kate Murray and the Town of Hempstead should be applauded for taking the steps to designate as a landmark a splendid stone sculpture marking the spot of the old airstrip. That distinction will preserve the memorial from the unknown fate that awaits the bankrupt Mall at the Source.

Credit is due as well to Adam Sackowitz, a 20-year-old Hofstra University student, for taking up the preservation cause and testifying last week before the town's landmarks commission.

The marker has been on display for 15 years, on the perimeter of the mall, on the grass between the parking garage and the roadway. Once the landmarks commission designates it as an official site, any changes to the monument and several feet surrounding it, can't be changed without town approval.

This provides adequate protection for the site as well as for purchasers of the mall. As an alternative, the Association for a Better Long Island, a builders and developers group, said it would purchase the sculpture and move it to the Cradle of Aviation Museum rather than see it fall to the wrecker's ball.

But it's best the sculpture remains to mark the spot. Future developers would be wise to incorporate, if not capitalize, on the location's place in history.


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