Yesterday, an article “Something Strange in Herald Square” (linked below) was tweeted by someone I follow on my personal Twitter account. I found it very interesting. First, it tells a fun story, in an interesting visual manner, of something I bet many people walk past every day in New York City without noticing. It also made my nerd-self emit a little “squee!” as my imagination ran wild with images of glowy-eyed creatures observing NYC from above. (Apparently I’ve watched Ghostbusters a few too many times…)
I love not only that these owls exist (over a century old!) but also how they were re-purposed. (And, of course, my inner Fox Mulder adores the conspiracy theory portion of the article…) This story is a perfect example of how personal stories involving fantastical history can be found in the most unexpected places. It’s quite likely that many of the buildings, bridges, parks and other items from our shared built environment have similar stories to share. I think it’s also crucial to recognize how often we pass by things everyday that we take for granted.
As preservationists, we need to remember that these stories are oftentimes a common thread with which people can identify. Some who think they don’t care about “old buildings” might be fascinated by a company founder’s story…or, in this case, they might just find glowy-eyed owls to be pretty cool. Each of these “ins” is a way to engage people in the important work we do.
Do you have a favorite oddball landmark where you live? Do you know its story? Share it with us. We’d love to hear (and see!)
p.s. If it weren’t for Twitter, we’d miss out on some really cool stuff. Do you follow us? Please join us: @landmarksociety