This afternoon we honored Jim Power and his newly reinstated 'Mosaic Trail' light poles, the gorgeous staples of the East Village streetscape that have finally made their way home to Astor Place. As the 'Mosaic Man's' remaining 7 poles were removed from Astor Place to make way for the plaza's expansion and redesign, the East Village community was horrified to think that the beloved poles would be gone for good.
After a public outcry to bring the poles back to their rightful homes, community organizations like the Village Alliance, City Lore, and Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) came together and fought for the poles to be included in the new plazas. The groups ulitmately worked with the Department of Transportation on a design that would restore the poles to the space in a way that honors their importance to the ever-changing neighborhood and city.
Today, these organizations, along with DOT and elected officials like Councilmember Rosie Mendez, came together once again to celebrate the poles' official restoration and unveiling. William Kelley of the Village Alliance opened the dedication ceremony discussing the incredible journey of saving these decades-old pieces of public art. Photographer and long-time East Village resident Clayton Patterson spoke to the public, along with proprietor of the Bowery Poetry Club Bob Holman, each offering loving remarks about their friendships with Jim and the power of his work. Steve Zeitlin of City Lore and Harry Bubbins of GVSHP talked about the vital role the poles had in honoring and catalyzing the neighborhood's rich history of art, passion, and even rebellion.
Jim and fellow artist Julie Powell donated countless hours of time to redesigning and restoring each pole. When each pole was unveiled as Jim gave a tour of each design's significance, their hard work and passion for the community shined even brighter than each passing car's reflection in the tiny mosaic pieces. The Astor Pole tells the story of Astor Place's history and honors iconic institutions like The Public Theater, while the newly redesigned Fire and Police Poles commemorate the first responders of 9/11 as well as the lives of policemen that have been lost over the years.
No matter which beautiful or tragic story the poles tell, each one embodies and reflects fantastic culture of the East Village and its people. They celebrate the city's uniqueness, diversity, and resilience, bringing the streets to life for thousands of New Yorkers each day.
We could not be more thrilled that these stunning pieces of East Village history can brighten the new plazas and streets for generations to come!
Event photography by Julie Brown Photography.