Wednesday, November 30

The Man Behind The Park

Photo: Farrell/News
Before September 17, the name Zuccotti did not have much of a meaning to the thousands of people who, for the next two months would occupy, live and visit the park. Many people still do not know why the park is called Zuccotti Park or for whom it was named.

74-year-old John E. Zuccotti is the former City Planning Commission chairman and was appointed as the first deputy mayor under Abe Bearne in 1970. He is the co-chairman of the board of Brookfield Properties, a multi-billion dollar real estate development firm.  During his career he specialized in planning, housing, real estate and municipal law and played a leading role in the development process of major residential and commercial projects throughout the city.

“If you go there, you can’t tell the protesters from the tourists. It has a kind of festive atmosphere.” Zuccotti said to the New York Times about the occupation in early October. However, in recent weeks he seems to have different concerns of the parks new reputation.
When asked, 18 out of 20 people, who have been actively participating in the occupation, had no idea as to whom John Zuccotti is. The other two people had interesting answers. One, a 22 year old from Baltimore said, “Zuccotti is a type of bonzi tree, that is very rare.” The other person, a 32 year old man from Brooklyn thought it was, “a political figure who was assassinated in the 1800’s.”

“He was very worried about it,” former Mayor Ed Koch told the Daily News after speaking with Zuccotti recently. “He said, everybody knows my name, Zuccotti, not because of what I’ve done as an individual, but because of the park.”  

Photo: Office Links
Originally know as 1 Liberty Plaza the space was renamed Liberty Square after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. After Brookfield Properties spent over $8 million in renovations in 2006 it was renamed Zuccotti Park. But why was that the chosen place of occupation? One of the Chief Executive Officers, Ric Clarke explained during an interview, “it’s easy—location, location, location.”

A block-long, the half-acre park is a privately owned public plaza and typically does not allow overnight camping or serve as a base for mass protests. He continued, “It’s in the heart of the financial district and is one of the largest privately owned public spaces in the city.”  

Moses, a 24 year old from Virginia Beach who has participated in the occupation since the first week said, "I don't think this is a personal thing against the guy who the park was named for. It's an ideal location for the message we are trying to send. It's a great $8 million campground. "

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