Open City: Blogging Urban Change
The local M9 bus stop & Eddie Boros (1934-2007)
By Celina Su

 

What sorts of places are bus stops? At first glance, they are in-between spaces, neither here nor there. Some have shelters, but others only wayward signifiers, 20 feet away from where the buses actually pick up passengers. We don’t rub shoulders at bus stops, as we do inside buses or aboard subway trains. Yet, we meet and interact with familiar faces on a regular basis in these simultaneously liminal, shifting, and essential sites— over weeks, months, and years, so that we know the intricacies and vicissitudes of their sartorial whims, their moods, and their schedules.

Our neighbors become neighborly; the friendly become our friends—even the shirtless quirky visionaries four decades older than us, ones we could not imagine befriending in any other context. Yes, especially them. Eddie Boros, born in 1934, was the middle of three sons born to Hungarian parents. He grew up on 5th Street and Avenue B. Thomas Yu, born in 1978, is the older of two sons from Hong Kong. He moved to the United States at the age of 5 and grew up on 6th Street and Avenue C.

In this video post, Thomas Yu talks about growing up in Loisada in the 1980s and getting to know Eddie Boros at their local M9 bus stop, on 6th Street and Avenue B:

A bit about Eddie Boros and the 6B garden
A fierce pacifist, Eddie Boros was assigned to plant trees during his stint in the US Army during the Korean War. Like his father and his two brothers, he then became a house painter.

In 1982, local residents took over a vacant lot at the corner of 6th Street and Avenue B, rid it of piles of debris, and began to create the 6B community garden. In 1985, Eddie joined their efforts.

By then, local residents had already fought off a city plan to turn the street corner into a parking lot. Over the next ten years, the gardeners mobilized repeatedly to keep the city from selling the land to high-end housing developers. The local community board and some local housing advocates had hoped that luxury housing would help the neighborhood and approved such plans, but the city was unable to secure a reasonable amount of affordable housing in their agreements. This kept the land off the real estate market until the economic downturn in the early 1990s, when developers’ demand for the lot waned once again. In 1996, the city finally granted the 6B garden permanent site status.

In the meantime, the garden flourished. It was there that Eddie’s painting, planting, urban foraging, and construction skills culminated in his masterpiece—What eventually became a 65-foot-tall “Toy Tower,” one that spilled over from his assigned 4-by-8-foot plot into seven others. Eddie was known around the neighborhood to haul around 100-pound bags of rocks even after age 70, and for making and giving bicycles and airplanes to children around the neighborhood. He passed away in 2007. The Toy Tower, which Eddie called “my baby,” was dismantled in 2008.

For more information on the 6th Street and Avenue B Community Garden and Eddie Boros, see:
The 6B Garden website
A remembrance in The Villager
An article on the Toy Tower dismantling in the Times

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About Open City
Open City: Blogging Urban Change is an interdisciplinary neighborhood blog and community project coordinated by the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Five commissioned writers, called Organizing Fellows, are working with community organizations and neighborhood folks in Manhattan’s Chinatown/Lower East Side (LES), Flushing, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn to collect oral histories and interviews, offer commentary about gentrification, neighborhood change, and produce new creative work around these themes. Read more.
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CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities was formed in 1986 (formerly known as the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence) as a response to an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes both in New York City and around the country (which included violence by police officers against Asians).
They have two offices – one in Manhattan’s Chinatown (which houses the Chinatown Tenants Union, and the new Asian Youth in Action organizing project) and the Youth Leadership Project office in the Bronx – and have members from all over the city. Over the years, CAAAV’s main campaigns have focused on community-based organizing work rooted in Asian immigrant and refugee communities. Although their advocacy and organizing work is focused mainly in Manhattan’s Chinatown and the northwest Bronx, CAAAV’s work also touches upon larger issues (such as affordable housing, war, and immigration) shaping communities all over the world: “Our work is primarily centered around issues facing New Yorkers, but always with a global analysis.”
CAAAV’s mission is to organize and build the power of working-class Asian immigrants, refugees, and youth to change concrete conditions and participate in a broader social justice movement. In the past, CAAAV’s work included organizing South Asian taxi drivers, Korean women workers, and Filipina domestic workers. Several of these organizing projects have gone on to become their own organizations, such as the New York Taxi Workers Alliance and Domestic Workers United. CAAAV’s current work focus on three different program areas: Read more.

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Community Announcements
Manhattan CB3 Land Use, Zoning, Public & Private Housing Committee
Monday, May 2 at 6:30 pm -- Rutgers Community Center, Gymnasium - 200 Madison Street (btwn Rutgers & Pike Sts)

Brooklyn CB7, Land Use/Landmarks Committee Regular meeting
Continued discussion on potential 8th Avenue rezoning

Manhattan CB3 Economic Development Committee Tuesday, May 3 at 6:30pm -- Community Board 3 Office - 59 East 4th Street (btwn 2nd Ave & Bowery)

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