Manhattan, NY – No New Yorker paid closer attention to the reclaiming of Zuccotti Park than the respected elder city statesman for which it is named.
John Zuccotti, 74, is co-chair of global real estate giant Brookfield Properties, the owner of the half-acre slice of pink granite and honey locust trees the Occupy Wall Street movement took over.
And even though the NYPD removed the tent city that crammed the park, friends say Zuccotti worries his legacy is forever intertwined, if not over-shadowed by the showdown.
“He was very worried about it, former Mayor Ed Koch told the Daily News after speaking with Zuccotti recently. “He said, ‘Everybody knows my name, Zuccotti, not because of what I’ve done as an individual, but because of the park.’”
“It’s been a difficult time for him, Koch said.
Still, in the eyes of the populist OWS protest, he’s now consider part of the problem — a member of the countrys wealthiest 1%.
But anyone who reduces his legacy to the controversial eviction — and the roving private security guards now rousting any inkling of a new OWS foothold — is denying Zuccotti his due.
Zuccotti spent decades building his reputation as a virtuous, civic-minded powerbroker.
As then-Mayor Abe Beame’s first deputy mayor, he is widely considered the white knight who restored public trust and fiscal order as the city teetered on the brink of bankruptcy in the mid-1970s.
Before that, the registered Democrat participated in Rev. Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor People’s march on the D.C., and chaired the City Planning Commission under former Mayor John Lindsay. He also worked in President Lyndon Johnson’s administration in Housing and Urban Development department.