Today at noon, join mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio for a "Hospitals Not Condos Rally" at the site of the former St. Vincent's, on the northwest corner of Seventh and Greenwich Avenues.
Supportive celebrities like Susan Sarandon, Rosie Perez, and Harry Belafonte will be there, along with hospital workers and community activists who say, "We are demanding an end to the same bad policies that led to the tragic closing of St. Vincent's Hospital and its conversion into high end condos." (Maybe de Blasio will be arrested again, as he was at last month's hospital-closing protest.)
If you haven't taken a look at the battered, desecrated corpse that was St. Vincent's, now is a good time. The buildings have been demolished, down to a hole in the ground, but some brick shells remain. They will serve as the gutted skins of the luxurious Greenwich Lane.
"Live exactly where you want," says the copy that runs along the plywood of 11th and 12th Streets--and on the website where the development is described:
"The buildings of The Greenwich Lane have each been individually crafted with high-end, state-of-the-art, luxury living in mind. Many of the residences throughout have private outdoor spaces, and they all come together to surround one lush central garden, a quiet oasis in the style of historic village greens. The garden is just one of a staggering array of private amenities, all presented at a level of discretion unheard of in most West Village residences."
St. Vincent's was founded in 1849 as a charity hospital. It served the poor, the homeless, the hopeless. Now its skin is being sold to the super-rich as "Classic mid-century architecture."
Walls around the hospital used to carry different kinds of messages--missing persons flyers from 9/11 and, after its closure, thank-you notes from a city full of survivors.
Today, above each glossy panel of marketing copy, you see boarded-up windows. From the back, gutted rooms where the sick and dying once lay, where bodies swelled and bled, and hearts stopped beating. Soon to be filled with banal cocktail chatter and big-screen TVs.
A house of virulent epidemics, from cholera to AIDS, this site is now "A light-filled, pre-war jewel."
St. Vincent's, wrote David France in New York in 2010, "is a museum, almost, a place haunted by Whitman’s 'carols of Death.' We see the ghosts as we pass there even now, we hear their voices, their last words, we remember their weight in our arms, the way they vanished from those rooms."
Let these spaces be haunted by horrors. May the new residents never get a good night's rest.
Don't forget, Bloomberg and Quinn let this happen. Keep Quinnberg out of office. Vote for de Blasio.