Just what we need in this era of Bloomberg's over-development of our communities, a borough historian who doesn't feel the need for landmarking of Queens historical buildings...geez..!
Queens' new borough historian swears he won't "hide behind books" - but he might hide a few himself to bring the past to youngsters.
Pledging to connect with the public instead of library shelves, Jack Eichenbaum said he will offer scavenger hunts to help students learn the under appreciated legacy of their neighborhoods.
It's among several novel methods Eichenbaum vows to embrace in the prestigious post he assumed last week - at a crucial time when overdevelopment threatens Queens history.
"Books are a way of hiding from people," said Eichenbaum, 67, of Flushing. "I love being outdoors. I love the direct communication with people face to face."
Eichenbaum said he will also undertake digital research to determine, for example, how much of Queens' green space has been paved over in recent years.
Marshall said the display could feature items from the eclectic collection of the Queens topographical unit, such as a 1686 Bible and teeth from a famous Woodhaven racehorse named Dexter.
Marshall also hailed Eichenbaum's passion for leading walking tours past significant sites. "When people see that history and get into it, they don't want it to be destroyed," she said.
Eichenbaum stressed he will embrace an "educator" role rather than becoming an advocate who leads landmarking rallies to save "just every old building."
Pressed on whether he would seek landmark status to protect historic sites, Eichenbaum replied, "I don't see myself championing those types of causes."
Instead, he said, he will refer preservationists who seek advice on landmarking causes to other experts or museums.
He even dismissed some calls for historic preservation as residents fearing change.
Eichenbaum also bemoaned the "frozen-in-time" approach to the city's historic districts, which protect select blocks from major alterations or demolitions.
"A lot of the historic districts are just so fussy: 'You can't change this, you can't change the colors,'" he said.
Eichenbaum added that he is planning an October meeting of the borough's historical societies to foster interaction and cooperation around Queens.