Posted on February 23, 2010

Old Peter Ripped From His Pedestal Outside School 11

Agustin C. Torres, Jersey Journal, February 6, 2010


This is about Peter Stuyvesant and Jersey City–specifically when the city was born. Stuyvesant, governor of what would eventually become New York, was himself a political figure and now finds himself in the middle of a modern debate. Should he give way to more recent historic figures who resonate more with the present population?


Yesterday morning, without any warning, workmen removed the bronze Stuyvesant statue from its place in front of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School (School 11), put it on the back of a truck and drove off. The stone-etched words on the statue were cut out and the afternoon was spent jackhammering the base.

The surprise attack took local historians and conservancy people off guard, and they spent the afternoon calling each other.

Unless a ransom note arrives, the consensus was that the order to remove the likeness of the great director-general of the New Netherlands colonies of the Dutch West Indies Company came from city Superintendent of Schools Charles T. Epps. Epps could not be reached for comment.

Supposedly, the plan is for a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to replace Stuyvesant in front of School 11, according to local merchants and history buffs. {snip}


There is some irony to all this.

In a New Jersey City University Web site, it is claimed the city has “the oldest continuous educational institution in the United States” dating back to the Dutch colony in the 1600s, when Bergen’s school house was overseen by elders of the Dutch Reformed Church. Public education was free and funded by–yup, property taxes. You would think the Board of Education would be glad to have Peter’s statue in place.