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Message from the President

The venue for the 45th anniversary celebration, though great for a party, did not lend itself to more than cursory remarks by TBA President Bill Curtis, so he chose the Newsletter to share with members his thoughts on this occasion.

As our website and membership application states, our neighborhood is packed full of both history and current events, charm galore (starting with our interesting and unusual name), exciting places to visit, and quiet spots ideal for contemplation and escape from the stresses of life in what most of us consider the greatest city in the world. We are ten blocks long and four blocks wide and home to some 20,000 New Yorkers and hundreds of businesses large and small.

We are babies and nonagenarians, and every age in between. We have landmark buildings, buildings with mysteries and buildings with histories and many structures currently under construction whose stories have yet to be told. In an ethnically diverse city, we are probably one of the most diverse neighborhoods because of our proximity to the United Nations. We count as neighbors, friends, partners and past residents, politicians and celebrities, dignitaries and financial leaders, famous artists of every stripe and the "common folk" like you and me.

In the foreword to what might be considered the definitive history of Turtle Bay "New York's Turtle Bay Old & New" by Edmund Delaney's (1965), he states, "The story of Turtle Bay is as old as that of New York itself. But it is much more than a story of just a neighborhood, for to a surprisingly large degree it reflects not only the history of the city, but also that of the nation."

Forty-five years is quite a long time for an entity to exist, be it a business, a building, or a non-profit organization such as ours. Times change, enthusiasm wanes, trends pass. But from our first battle opposing the widening of 49th Street in 1957 - which was successful - to our victory just a few weeks ago in recommending a more appropriate location for the Homeless Drop-in Center, we have never stopped working to make Turtle Bay a better place to live. And that is the reason we are here today, 45 years after our 49th Street victory.

In the postscript to Delaney's book he states, "The story of Turtle Bay reflects the vitality of New York and New Yorkers, their willingness to accept and welcome the New, but also their desire to keep alive at least some of the spirit and traditions of the Old. In the midst of change, people remain even though, alas, time and "progress" has taken its toll." Working for both the preservation of our past while being open to growth and change is what the Turtle Bay Association has tried to achieve.

When more than one person is party to an event, there will be differences of opinion, of goals, of standards of beauty and appropriateness. So I'm sure we have not always pleased every Turtle Bay resident with the position we've taken in every battle we've waged or every goal we've worked toward, whether it be opposing change or encouraging it. But we have tried our best in each and every case to represent the majority opinion as we understood it and to do what would be best for the entire community over time.

We owe much to those who are no longer with us and those who have moved out of Turtle Bay. But whether their contributions were large and their terms of service lengthy or if they served the neighborhood only briefly, we are in their debt. Notice I did not say anyone's contributions were small, for the Association exists because of, and lives by and through the efforts of its volunteers. Thus, all contributions, all efforts, all assistance is meaningful, indeed critical, to the survival of the association, and - not to put too fine a point on it - but in many ways to the survival of our neighborhood as we know it. And I like to think that most of us have had quite a bit of fun along the way as well. I certainly have.

Winston Churchill said, "You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give." Those of us who live in Turtle Bay are blessed with many things - not the least of which is getting to live in Turtle Bay! I think that those who have contributed to, and worked with, the Association have the extra blessing of knowing that they have helped to make a better life for themselves and their neighbors and for those who follow them down our streets and avenues in years to come.

Through good times and bad, times happy and sad, we hope that the Turtle Bay Association has been there for you, just as you and scores of other volunteers and neighbors have been there for the Association. We cannot know what the future holds for us. But we can commit, with your ongoing help and support, to remaining an integral part of the wonderful, vibrant, fun, ever-changing-yet-ever-the-same neighborhood we all live in and love: Turtle Bay.

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The Turtle Bay Association is a nonprofit (501c3) community organization.

224 East 47th Street, New York City 10017
(212) 751-5465
Fax (212) 751-4941

 

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