New York is the city that forgets, and we forgive it usually because there’s simply no space to memorialize.
But even by that metric, the city’s failure to save Edgar Allan Poe’s south Bronx home is unforgivable.
It might be an unthinkable waste of prime real estate to make a museum out of Alan Ginsberg’s East Village pad or Andy Warhol’s Factory in midtown, but the failure to preserve Fordham cottage is purely one of indifference and a lack of funding.
The cottage costs about $300,000 a year to maintain, with the city picking up less than half the tab. The Bronx Historical Society has to provide the rest, but they’re in dire straits, the Daily News reports. The group is currently trying to raise $2 million to save the place. The total so far is $20,000.
Apparently, this collective amnesia is nothing new. In 1905 a Times reader penned a remarkably eloquent letter to the paper about the state of Fordham cottage.
“I too as a worshipper–almost a victim–of Poe have made a pilgrimage to the famous spot on Kings Bridge Road (sic), only to be met with the inhospitable sign bearing its unsentimental legend, ‘No trespassing.'”
The writer, Charles Zunser, concludes with a cry for action:
“Let a committee be organized who will present the facts to the city officers. If the administration should refuse to act, I am sure a private fund could be raised amongst the poet’s many admirers. Something must be done and immediately.”
And that’s exactly what happened–or didn’t, as it turns out.