Open Letter to Mayor Fulop: In Response to Wall Street Journal Quote

Dear Mayor Fulop:

I’ve lived in Hudson County all of my life — was born in Union City, went to high school in Jersey City, hung out here when I was in college, and have owned a home in the City since 2001. So I have enjoyed the arts scene in Jersey City for a long time. That’s why I am puzzled by your comment in the Wall Street Journal about what you think you are going to achieve with your plan for the Loew’s:

“This will be our first signature trophy entity for the cultural arts. It’s something Jersey City has never had, a cultural arts hub that anchors the community.”

 

The cultural arts have been an anchor for our community for many, many years — and have been in the vanguard of our City’s renaissance. Friends of the Loew’s first called for the Loew’s to be saved and restored as a cultural arts center in 1987 as a logical outgrowth of the local arts scene that was growing even then. The Attic Ensemble and Art House Productions are but two well known examples of Jersey City arts organizations that help to make Jersey City a true community, not just a locality. Our neighborhood groups have pioneered the idea of using performing arts to foster good feelings and make people happy they are living here in Jersey City. We have some wonderful fine arts galleries around town, and have been showing them off every year for decades in the annual Jersey City Studio Artists Tour. I brag about all of this to people I meet from outside our City.

And for that matter, Friends of the Loew’s has been providing a signature cultural arts hub for our community since at least 2004. If you don’t want to take my word for that, look up the recent story in TimeOut NY, which called the Loew’s one of the five best things to do in New Jersey: http://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do/the-best-things-to-do-in-new-jersey. And programming at the Loew’s has received much other plaudits and praise in regional media.

We’ve been doing this despite the failure of a previous City government to provide the critical support it had promised and acknowledged as necessary in order to enable the Theatre to support many more events. And for what it’s worth, had the City fulfilled its commitment to FOL, we would have then been in a tenable position to pursue grants and donations to help cover the cost of further renovations. Our goal has always been to minimize the local taxpayer’s share of the cost of renovations; certainly keeping it far less than $30 to $40 million.

With all due respect, your comments seem only to validate our concern that the Loew’s must have strong, locally rooted management in order to best understand and serve our community while also presenting programming that appeals to our region.

As always, FOL hopes to find a way to work with you while preserving the critical vision for the Loew’s.

Sincerely,

Colin Egan

Throwback Thursday: “Save the Loew’s”

“Save the Loew’s” flyer from 1987 

Friends of the Loew's

The Jersey City Historical & Preservation Association was a kind of precursor of sorts to the Landmarks Conservancy.  Colin Egan, a founding member and Executive Director of Friends of the Loew’s, was the Vice President of the The Jersey City Historical & Preservation Association at that time.

History Lesson:

Friends of the Loew’s began as a committee of JCHPA (it was first called the Save the Loew’s Task Force of JCHPA).  When the effort to save, restore and then operate the Loew’s grew too big, we realized we had to become a stand alone entity.  Most of the young people associated with JCHPA gravitated toward the Loew’s project, while most of the older folks (many were elderly) stayed with JCHPA, which is unfortunately why the entity sort of petered out.

Trivia:

The Brennan Court House
Theodore Conrad (shown on the flyer as JCHPA President) was in his eighties, although he worked with all of the young’uns on the Loew’s.  He was a very interesting guy.  He was an architectural model maker before the days of CAD who worked for many of the great American architects on some of the greatest building projects of mid-20th Century, including Lever House, the Chase Manhattan Bank headquarters, MOMA and John Kennedy’s grave.  He was born in Jersey City and kept his business here, never moving more than a half block from where he was born.  He is the man who led the effort that saved the really beautiful Hudson County Brennan Court House on Newark Avenue when IT was going  to be torn down.  A few years ago, the  County finally put a plaque up in tribute to his effort in the Court House. He was also involved in many other preservation and civic improvement projects, including the creation of Liberty State Park — where there is a road named for him.  And he was an inspiration and mentor to John Gomez.

More Trivia:

Colin Egan of Friends of the Loew’s drew the silly little cartoon of the Loew’s on this flyer.