Sunday, April 28, 2013

World's Greatest Detective and Secretary of State were almost neighbors

According to the 2004 Colin Powell biography by Reggie Finlayson (page 20), the family of the former Secretary of State moved to 952 Kelly Street in the South Bronx when Powell was four, so around 1941.

another source, Lodi News-Sentinel, 2/16/91

Just two years prior, something else notable happened on Kelly Street.

A superhero named Batman was created there.

I learned that Powell and Finger were nearly neighbors thanks to the 4/8/13 New York, its third annual “yesteryear” issue. (It didn’t mention Finger but I hadn’t known that Powell also has a tie to Kelly Street.)

I found an article about Powell returning to the Bronx in 2010 for a building dedication near Kelly Street. The article quoted Damian Griffin, Education Director of the Bronx River Alliance, who also lived nearby.

I emailed Damian, starting with “Here’s a question you don’t get every...well, ever.” I explained who I am and built up to this: “If you happen to live down the street from Finger’s former residence, would you be willing to go there and ask a tenant for the contact info of who owns the building? Consider it a cultural favor to New York!”

Damian responded as follows:

We actually met when…you came as a visiting author [to my son’s school several years ago]! Funny world. I will check out the building on my bike ride to work this morning and let you know. If I can help, I certainly will.

The coincidences continued. He also said that he used to know the family in the basement apartment of Finger’s former home. And upon doing a property map search, he saw that his daughter’s first babysitter now owns the building. (However, that turned out to be another person with the same name.)

By week’s end, Damian came through and sent me the contact information for the building owner.

As for why I want it, stay tuned.

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