Bring Them as Eagles

Mayor Bill de Blasio came to the Great Hall of Cooper Union’s landmark Foundation Building on Thursday, 04.10.14, to deliver a speech that catalogued some of the specific initiatives of his first 100 days in office, and which anticipated the path that his administration will pursue. Particular areas of focus of his speech were education, affordable housing, pedestrian safety, and equal opportunity. The broader theme was a description of the attributes of a progressive city. New York, the mayor asserted, has been a model for other cities across the nation and can be so again. What follows are excerpts transcribed in place that may be of particular interest to architects and others in the design community. In the superb setting of the Great Hall, with its history and volumetric quality, it was hard not to be impressed, as well, by the speechwriting skill and oratory of our new mayor. Quoting Abraham Lincoln, Robert Kennedy, and James Russell Lowell (“fate loves the fearless”), Mayor de Blasio’s central theme – “the Progressive City” – in many ways resonated with Lowell’s new world Voyage to Vinland, from which the famous line was taken:

Strong from self-helping;
Eyes for the present
Bring them as eagles’,
Blind to the Past.
They shall make over
Creed, law, and custom…
Fate loves the fearless;
Fools, when their roof-tree
Falls think it doomsday;
Firm stands the sky.
Over the ruin
See I the promise.

(from Voyage to Vinland; started 1851, completed 1869)

Mayor de Blasio’s remarks:

“I would like to thank all of the friends who are with us today as we mark this special occasion. We have a lot to celebrate, a lot to be thankful for. I want to thank everyone here at Cooper Union, this extraordinary treasure. This stage is renowned for over a century and a half as a place where people come together to think and to dream. An extraordinary education is offered here. Curious minds have come here over the generations, people seeking truth. It is the perfect setting to discuss all that our city is capable of. Abraham Lincoln said right here on this stage, ‘Let us have faith that right makes might.’ Continue reading “Bring Them as Eagles”