Sep. 27, 2023 By Anthony Medina
In a joint letter sent to the LPC chair on Friday, Sept. 22, several Queens elected officials called for the landmark preservation commission to award the historic firehouse, located at 56-29 68th St. in Maspeth, with landmark status — in recognition of the 19 brave firefighters who lost their lives on the Sept. 11 attacks.
Councilman Robert Holden, in conjunction with State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Assemblyman Steven Raga, signed the letter in hopes that the preservation commission will make an exception and recognize the Maspeth Firehouse’s historical and emotional significance.
“The Maspeth Firehouse is not just a building; it stands as a solemn reminder of the incredible bravery and sacrifice of our city’s firefighters,” said Holden. “By designating it as a landmark, we ensure that future generations remember and honor the 19 heroes who gave their lives for their fellow New Yorkers.”
The firefighters of Haz Mat 1 and Squad No. 288 experienced the greatest loss of life to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. There were 19 firefighters stationed at the Maspeth Firehouse who lost their lives as a result of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“In our city’s darkest moment, the firefighters of the Maspeth Firehouse showed the world on September 11, 2001 what true heroism, selflessness and sacrifice looks like, saving as countless lives at the cost of 19 of their own,” said Richards. “As the station that lost the most members that fateful day, it would be most appropriate to designate the Maspeth Firehouse as a New York City Landmark. This designation would underscore the immense sacrifices made by the members of Squad 288 and Haz Mat 1 and help ensure their bravery and the bravery of all those who responded to the terror attacks of 9/11, will never be forgotten.”
Granting landmark status to the firehouse will also aid in protecting the firehouse’s architecture, the letter details. The collective effort of one retired architect and his sister, Steve and Maxine Fisher, actually spearheaded the call for landmark status, as seen in QNS reporting dating back to 2013.
“Designating Maspeth Firehouse as a New York City landmark is long overdue,” said Gianaris. “Maspeth lost the most firefighters of any firehouse on 9/11, with 11 members of HazMat 1 and 8 members of Squad 288 tragically perishing. More than two decades later, it is time for the city to honor the wishes of Maspeth residents who have been asking for this recognition for years.”
Two previous attempts to receive landmark status were denied due to a 30-year rule, according to the letter, but the legislators are hopeful an exception will be made.
“In the shadow of the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, I echo the shared sentiments and desires of our community: The Maspeth Firehouse, where 19 brave souls gave everything, deserves not just our remembrance but our dedication as a landmark,” said Raga. “Their sacrifice is our history, and we must honor it in stone and spirit.”
This September marked the 22nd anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and according to the rules of LPC, in order for the firehouse to qualify for the landmark designation, 30 years must have passed since the time of the event.
A spokesperson from LPC told QNS that firehouses citywide are being evaluated for their historical significance, including in Maspeth.
“LPC recognizes the incredible bravery and sacrifice of emergency responders who gave their lives to help fellow New Yorkers during the horrible events of Sept. 11, and the commission’s research department is currently in the process of updating our survey of firehouses to evaluate the architectural merit and historic significance of firehouses citywide, including Maspeth, within that context, as well as in comparison to other designated firehouses throughout the city,” the spokesperson said.