Monday, December 20, 2010 at 11:22AM
Walking up Seventh Avenue past the Old First Church, at Carroll Street, it's easy to not notice that the northwest corner has been renamed in honor of Jackie Connor. Who was she? And why does she have a corner?
For those who lived in the area over five years ago, and spent any time walking around this part of the neighborhood, that would be an easy question to answer. According to OTBKB, Jackie was a friendly, perennially visible presence on the stretch of Seventh near the church, and could often be spotted pushing a shopping cart around and keeping an eye on the area. Even though she may have appeared homeless, she wasn't, and served as the eyes and ears of the neighborhood, and helped those in need.
"Civic minded doesn't even begin to describe Connor, who cared deeply about the neighborhood where she was born and raised," says Louise at OTBKB. "Everyone knew her and she knew everybody; she kept the police abreast of what was going on on Seventh Avenue by cell phone. And she had her pet peeves like flyers on lamp posts, which she waged a one-woman campaign to remove."
She held court from her perch on the church's steps, which she referred to as her "office," for over thirty years. One of her biggest accomplishments was convincing the city to pick up trash twice daily along Seventh. She also fought to keep the fire house on Union Street open after 9/11 and for security guards in bank lobbies after hours. There wasn't a local issue she wasn't willing to take part in, even if it was just giving advice to those looking to get involved.
Apparently she used to frequently call the cops in order to keep three emotionally disturbed homeless men who'd hang out in front of the church at bay. Old First Pastor Daniel Meeter chimes in: "She had the time to sit there on the wall until the cops came. And it didn't matter to her how many times she had to call them. And the men were afraid of her. Jackie even had a direct line to the NYC Commissioner of Transportation! For a neighborhood to work (think "It Takes a Village"), there have to be people like Jackie who are the watchers, vigilant, tenacious, and not afraid."
When she passed away in the spring of 2006, the community launched a campaign to rename the corner in honor of the unofficial "Mayor of Seventh Avenue." It was unveiled on July 15, 2006, what would have been her 64th birthday. From what I could gather, if anyone ever deserved a street sign, it was her.