[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 59 (Friday, May 13, 1994)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[Congressional Record: May 13, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



                        HON. CAROLYN B. MALONEY

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                         Thursday, May 12, 1994

  Mrs. MALONEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring to the attention of 
my colleagues an important event which will take place in my district 
on Wednesday, May 25th. On that day, the City of New York will 
officially rename the corner of Tudor City Place and East 43rd Street 
as John McKean Square in honor of the civic leader and community 
activist who passed away last year.
  John Ferguson McKean was an inspiration to the many people who had 
the opportunity to work with him. As anyone who even briefly met him 
quickly found out, John certainly had a powerful impact upon many 
lives. At his funeral last year, a good friend described John as the 
``mayor or benevolent lord of Tudor City,'' and that's why I know he 
would be pleased that a site so close to his heart will forever stand 
as testimony to his commitment to the community and our City.
  John's commitment to community service was remarkable. He spent a 
lifetime working on behalf of New York and his neighbors. His energy 
was infectious; once John lent his hand and heart to a cause, he would 
not rest until the job was done. He never entertained the thought of 
failure; John always had the will, and he always showed the rest of us 
the way.
  John served on so many committees and community organizations that it 
would be impossible to talk about each of them here. After 
extraordinary service in the U.S. Navy during World War II which 
resulted in his being awarded the Legion of Merit, John spent the rest 
of his adult life applying his persistence and drive for the benefit of 
  John was, of course, a nationally renowned tenant leader. As co-chair 
of the Committee Against Rent Increase Passalongs, as a member of the 
East Side Rezoning Alliance, as President of the New Democratic Club, 
and as a committee member of the New York State Council of 
Environmental Advisors, Community Board 6, the 17th Precinct Community 
Council, and Concerned Citizens for a Fair and Effective Justice, John 
worked tirelessly on behalf of those less fortunate than he. And his 
visionary leadership of the Tudor City Association, of which he was the 
founder and president for 20 years, and the Tudor City Greens, of which 
he was Chairman for Life, will never be forgotten. In fact, as one of 
New York City's most important tenant advocates, his lobbying in Albany 
led to the passage of new legislation which protected the rights of 
tenants across the state.
  But if one was forced to choose one crowning achievement which 
characterized John's remarkable tenacity, intelligence, and 
determination, one would have to recall his leadership with regards to 
the quixotic, yet ultimately successful, effort to halt attempts to 
bulldoze two parks in Tudor City into oblivion. John simply refused to 
allow these beautiful oases to be replaced by some gigantic monstrosity 
of a 52-story building. And when the going got tough, John rallied 
residents with a bullhorn to form a human chain around the park, 
mounting a successful challenge to the destruction.
  Mr. Speaker, I like to think of that morning as a more civilized 
version of Tiananmen Square, with the difference being that the good 
guys won. That morning, John crystallized the very essence of community 
activism. I believe that today's young people can take a page from this 
great man's book. If you really care about your community, you must 
believe that you can make a difference. Ask any of the residents of 
Tudor City of John McKean made a difference. Today, mothers still play 
in the park with their children because of him; midtown has at least 
one green sanctuary, rather than another monolith of brick and mortar.
  There are so many other stories of John's civic leadership. This was 
a man who spent the night with his wife in sleeping bags on the slate 
floor of their building lobby, guarding the door during a walk-out of 
building employees. As Kevin McKean, his nephew, once put it, ``he was 
always a warrior at heart, always happiest when fighting the good 
  And John's support did not end with his civic contributions. Those of 
us who were lucky enough to call him friend, and they were so many, 
will always remember his support and guidance in times of need. He had 
a wonderful sense of humor and he could reinvigorate one's enthusiasm 
and commitment just by his laugh.
  Mr. Speaker, John McKean may have left us in a physical sense. But he 
will live on, through the dedication of John McKean Square, through the 
positive impact he has had on his community, and certainly in the 
hearts and minds of the many people whose lives he has touched.