Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, along with Senator Joseph Addabbo, Council Member Tony Avella, Assembly Member Mike Miller, Members of the Richmond Hill Historic Society and children of P.S. 66, yesterday participated in the street co-naming ceremony of 109th Street, between 86th Street and Jamaica Avenue, in Richmond Hill as the “Nancy Cataldi Way.” Nancy Cataldi, who died at age 55 last November of a brain aneurysm and hemorrhage, was an outspoken preservationist who launched unrelenting campaign to save Richmond Hill’s Victorian homes and maintain the character of her community.
“Nancy’s dedication to preserving the history of Richmond Hill is important for the well-being and future of our community,” said Council Member Elizabeth S. Crowley (D-Queens). “I look to Nancy for her leadership in curbing over-development and preserving the character of our neighborhoods. The community of people who have gathered for today’s street co-naming reflect the difference Nancy made for our neighborhood, for the borough and the City of New York. It is an honor to co-name this street after a remarkable local leader and to announce that today, October 24, 2009, will forever be the ‘Nancy Cataldi Day.’”
Nancy Cataldi was a founding member of the Richmond Hill Historic Society where she acted as President for over a decade. According to Joseph DeMay, Vice President of the Richmond Hill Historical Society, "Nancy Cataldi was not just the brains of the Richmond Hill Historical Society, she was its heart and soul.” Cataldi is famous for formulating the proposed landmark historic district of Richmond Hill and for creating the Richmond Hill Museum. In addition, Cataldi ran events celebrating the history of Maple Grove Cemetary in Kew Gardens, and curated the Italian-American Museum in Little Italy. Right before her untimely death, Cataldi was instrumental in saving the RKO Movie Theatre on Hillside Avenue and The Republican Club on Lefferts Boulevard.
"At Nancy's wake, Councilwoman Crowley and I had discussed how nice it would be to name a street after Nancy,” said Patrick J. Kearns, founding member of the Richmond Hill Historical Society. “This weekend to see it happen was a great day for a woman that not only was important to Richmond Hill, but Richmond Hill was important to her. It was truly one of the best possible ways we could honor her, now her name is indelibly engraved in the map of Richmond Hill."
Published in 2002, Cataldi teamed up with Richmond Hill Historian Carl Ballenas to write a history book titled, Images of America: Richmond Hill. Working with Arcadia Publishing they gathered many vintage postcards and newspaper articles. The book walks the reader through the evolution of Richmond Hill after the Civil War and contains over 200 photographs.
“Nancy Cataldi was a great historian and a great friend of the neighborhood of Richmond Hill,” said Carl Bellenas, Author, Richmond Hill Historian and Teacher at Immaculate Conception School. “It is so appropriate that its called Nancy Cataldi Way because she really did lead the way for historic preservation through education and through love of the community.”
At the ceremony, the Cataldi family accepted a New York City Council Proclamation, presented by Council Member Elizabeth Crowley in recognition of the leadership and legacy of their beloved Nancy. The presentation of the proclamation was book ended with performances by the Sacred Music Choral of Richmond Hill who sang ‘Abide With Me’ and ‘Amazing Grace,’ and poems written about Nancy Cataldi were recited by students from P.S. 66. Remarks were also given by Council Member Tony Avella, Assembly Member Mike Miller, representatives from Senator Joseph Addabbo’s office and Assembly Member Nettie Mayersohn, District Manager of Community Board 9 Mary Ann Carey, Reverend Francis Colamaria of Holy Child Jesus Church, Linda Mayo-Perez of Maple Grove Cemetery, Carl Ballenas of the Immaculate Conception and Vice President of the Richmond Hill Historic Society Joseph DeMay Jr.
Nancy Lucia Cataldi settled in Richmond Hill is 1963 and was a photographer by trade, starting as the photographer for the New York Rangers Hockey team and having many of her photographs appearing in prestigious magazines. In 1994, with boyfriend Stefano Palo, she purchased a 1905 Victorian House in Richmond Hill at 86-22 109th Street. She marveled at its romantic and historic allure and developed a deep interest in the neighborhood. The house was tenderly restored and refurbished. Through research she learned that the house was designed by noted Richmond Hill architect Henry E. Haugaard. In 1996 with the help of Dr. Stanley Cogan, Queens Borough Historian, her house received one of the first Queensmark awards for historical, architectural and cultural merit. In 1997 she and other residents formed the Richmond Hill Historical Society. By 1999 she had become the President of the organization.
Council Member Elizabeth S. Crowley’s New York City Proclamation written as follows:
Elizabeth S. Crowley, Council Member of the 30th District, is proud to posthumously honor Nancy Lucia Cataldi for her indelible contribution to the preservation of the beautiful and historic community of Richmond Hill; and
WHEREAS: The artist’s role in the formation of culture is the gift of self, requiring the full involvement of the person’s love, creativity, intelligence, and knowledge of the world, laboring for the universal good while inspired by dreams; and
WHEREAS: Nancy Lucia Cataldi, born February 7th, 1953 in Elmont, New York, moved to Naples, Italy as a young child where she gained an enduring appreciation of the richness of Italian culture and heritage, fostering in her a love of all things beautiful, including cats and masquerade balls. Returning to the United States in 1966, she settled in Richmond Hill where her mother opened Lucia’s Italian restaurant and at her side, Nancy perfected the art of la Cucina Napolitana. Ever passionate about her roots, she returned to her beloved Italy frequently and in time curated the premier exhibit of the Italian-American Museum in Little Italy; and
WHEREAS: Ms. Cataldi, a 1971 graduate of Richmond Hill High School, completed her education at Fashion Institute of Technology, pursued a career in photography and became a celebrated stylist for magazines and studios. Joining a love of sports to a love of glamour, she became the House Photographer for the New York Rangers, Press Photographer for the New York Yankees Old-Timers Games, and Press Photographer for the Belmont Stakes at the New York Times; sought after as a freelance photographer she gave expression to her abiding interest in history by covering many of the historic events in addition to movie sets in New York City; and
WHEREAS:Ms. Cataldi, in 1994 became the proud owner of a 1905 Victorian home in Richmond Hill at 86-22 109th Street and fascinated by its romantic and historic allure, embarked on a quest to uncover its origin, discovered that the house was the work of noted Richmond Hill architect Henry E. Haugaard and became engrossed in local preservation. In 1996 with the help of Dr. Stanley Cogan, Queens Borough Historian, her house was honored with one of the first Queensmark Awards for historical, architectural and cultural merit; and
WHEREAS: Ms. Cataldi, inspired by the fruits of her historical studies and her devotion to the neighborhood, assisted with the incorporation of the Richmond Hill Historical Society in 1998; became President of the Society two years later and in 2002, co-authored with historian Carl Ballenas, a definitive popular history of Richmond Hill and in 2006, the history of Kew Garden’s Maple Grove Cemetery; and
WHEREAS: Ms. Cataldi, recognized with a Grassroots Preservation Award by New York City’s Historic Districts Council for her tireless efforts, sought always to build community and safeguard Richmond Hill’s history and beauty; understood the impact of the past on the present and remained deeply engaged in her mission to preserve and protect architectural treasures until her young and sudden departure; and
WHEREAS: Ms. Cataldi, instrumental in saving the RKO Movie Theatre on Hillside Avenue, The Republican Club on Lefferts Boulevard, and creator of the Richmond Hill Museum; assisted in formulating a landmarked historic district; enriched everyone in Richmond Hill and the city beyond by her presence and left an irreplaceable legacy that continues today to inspire and instruct. For all of these reasons, we are proud to pay tribute to her by renaming 109th Street between 86th Avenue and Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill as “Nancy Cataldi Way”; now, therefore
BE IT KNOWN:That Elizabeth S. Crowley, Council Member of the 30th District, most gratefully honors
Nancy Lucia Cataldi
for her outstanding service and contributions to Richmond Hill, Kew Gardens, the Borough of Queens and all of New York City.
Signed this 24th day of October in the year Two Thousand Nine.
Elizabeth S. Crowley
Council Member, 30th District