Money will promote Asian art, help students
Last week in passing, we mentioned that a statue of former Queens borough president Claire Shulman was unveiled at Crystal Windows & Door Systems, a private company in Flushing.
We didn’t really dwell on it, but we were very curious as to why a private company would install a statue of the former borough president on its property. After the column was published, we learned more about the story behind the statue.
Thomas Chen, the founder of Crystal Windows, apparently considered Shulman a mentor and friend who helped him expand and grow his business while she was borough president. Even after she left office in 2001, the two remained in close contact.
“When I was starting my window manufacturing company in Queens, Claire helped me avoid many of the typical setbacks immigrant entrepreneurs face,” Chen said in a statement. “She encouraged me to take executive business courses, engage reputable service providers and suppliers, and make Crystal Windows a good corporate citizen.”
To show his gratitude, Chen decided to commission award-winning sculptor Yutien Chang to create the statue of Shulman. In fact, Shulman had a hand in designing the statue before she passed away in August of 2020, even meeting with the artist in 2019 to discuss concepts.
The statue is made of bronze and stands six feet tall. According to a press release, the statue depicts “Shulman in motion, as was characteristic of the former Queens borough president.”
The statue will be on display at Crystal Windows at 31-10 Whitestone Expressway until October 22. The public is welcome to visit if you would like to get an up close and personal look at the piece of work.
After October 22, it will be moved to Crystal Park, Chen’s private 200-acre art park and nature preserve in Dutchess County. (What, you don’t also have a private art park and nature preserve?!)
The statue will stand on an 18-foot by 8-foot metal pathway base in the shape of an infinity sign, “symbolizing Shulman’s continuous drive forward and her boundless energy,” according to the release.
“I was thrilled Claire was able to visit Crystal Park in October 2019 to see the location selected for her statue along a wooded path overlooking the lake,” said Chen. “Sadly, Claire did not get to see the completed work, but we are glad to share it with her many friends in Queens.”
And apparently Shulman won’t be alone. This is just the first in a series of statues that Chen intends to have created honoring people who have contributed to his personal and business success.
We guess Chen will be able to stroll among people from his past as he wanders his private nature preserve. We’ll be waiting for word on when we should come in for our sitting!
On the morning of September 11, 2001, the restaurant staff at Windows on the World went about their business as usual on the top floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. They prepared food in the kitchen, served breakfast to the tourists and businessmen outside, and started getting the lunch menu ready.
Within the next few hours, 73 members of the restaurant staff would be dead.
The impact of 9/11 on the Windows on the World restaurant workers has not been forgotten. Every year since the attack, a dedicated group of survivors and organizers has held a vigil to remember their fallen coworkers and friends.
On the 20th anniversary this past weekend, a special vigil was held on the roof of 110 William Street. With a perfect view of One World Trade Center, approximately 45 Windows on the World workers were joined by politicians, dignitaries, and friends for speeches, a candle lighting, and moments of silence.
“Today we honor the 73 restaurant workers who died on September 11,” said Fekkak Mamdouh, an East Elmhurst resident and former worker at Windows on the World. “We should never forget them, their struggle, and their sacrifice.”
Former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the event’s keynote speaker. She discussed the ongoing sacrifices that restaurant workers make during times of hardship, including 9/11 and now the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m here today to thank all of you for honoring those who were lost and who continue to work and serve,” Clinton said. “People who are working in service, restaurants, and hospitals are always working to make this a better country, and today we remember those workers who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
A number of local politicians were also in attendance, including State Senator John Liu. Speaking to our paper, Liu discussed the ways in which essential workers continue to be a source of inspiration for their communities.
“Twenty years seems like a long time, but I know we all remember September 11, 2001, like it was yesterday,” Liu said. “But as terrible as that day was, in the coming days and years it brought out the best in people across New York City and beyond. We remember the first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice, but we must remember all the service workers that died that fateful day. No one was collateral damage. Every death mattered.”