August 21, 2018


Herewith, a selection of flyers from 1972-73, the first salvos against developer Harry Helmsley, who buys most of Tudor City for $36 million in October, 1970. The following year, he announces plans to bulldoze the parks and replace them with a pair of luxury apartment towers. The outraged community forms an ad hoc group, the Save Our Parks Committee, chaired by John McKean. "We will oppose Helmsley all the way," he promises.

One way is by numerous demonstrations, as shown by the flyers below. They're urgent missives, plainly written in haste, as if the bulldozers were headed down the street at any moment.

Though the tone of the flyer is confident ‒ We Can Win! ‒ it also cannily notes that it's just for an hour and only a few blocks away. Bring your children! (at bottom) lends some pathos. Both Helmsley's office and Central Park South residence were picketed.

Little did anyone know that this was just the beginning of an epic, fifteen-year battle to preserve the parks. Despite occasional rays of hope, the bulldozers would, in fact, come rumbling down the street in 1980.


Thank you to Roland Peracca for sharing this material from the collection of Marcia Thompson. We'll be posting more about the Helmsley era in the coming weeks, and welcome any reminiscences and (especially) photos that readers might have.

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