Three decades ago, a milestone — little noticed at the time — began an unexpected transformation in Battery Park City. In the mid-1980s, a teacher recently laid off when a daycare center on the Upper East Side closed, reported to an office at the World Trade Center to file a claim for back pay. When she had finished the paperwork, Joy McCormack wandered across West Street to a partially built neighborhood that she had never heard of. Walking around Battery Park City, she decided on the spot that this new and growing community would be a perfect home for the childcare center she had long dreamed of opening herself.
“When we opened in 1986, we had only ten students,” Ms. McCormack, told the Broadsheet in 2007, by then retired and living in Vero Beach, Florida. “And most of those came from families who lived in the suburbs, but the parents commuted into the Financial District and brought their toddlers on the train with them.” Spurred by a vision that Battery Park City would be a magnet for couples with young kids, Ms. McCormack persevered through two lean years, but by 1988 was serving more than 75 students. And most of these were children living in Battery Park City.
It is hard to overstate the importance of this turning point. The new availability of high-quality childcare was one of the factors that persuaded young couples who had moved temporarily to what was then an outpost on the urban frontier — always intending to move to the suburbs as soon as their first baby arrived — to reconsider and instead raise children in Lower Manhattan. This catalyst was like the first pebble in what becomes an avalanche, because these same parents, in the years that followed, eventually organized to fight for public schools, and parks, and libraries, and athletic leagues, and every other building block that comprises thriving residential community.
In the 1990s, this community’s first preschool (initially known as Joy McCormack’s All Day Nursery) was purchased by Denise Cordivano and Karen Klomp, who renamed the growing facility the Battery Park City Day Nursery. (Ms. Klomp retired in 2007, but retains her interest in the school and her love for Battery Park City.)
Ms. Cordivano observes that, “we’ve always believed in putting children first and building an atmosphere where, ‘loving and learning go hand in hand.’ We have a highly educated staff and one of our teachers, Janet Lovell, has been with the Nursery for the entire 30 years. And many of our staff have been here for over 15 years.”
She estimates (conservatively) that some 2,800 children have passed through the Nursery’s doors in 30 years. “Our first graduates are now 35 years old,” Ms. Cordivano notes with pride, adding that, “while our heart has remained the same, the Nursery and the neighborhood have changed. The original four classrooms have grown to seven classrooms.”
Tomorrow (February 11), the Day Nursery will celebrate its three decades of service. “We are inviting previous students and their families, previous and current teachers, and community supporters to join us,” Ms. Cordivano says.
The celebration will be held at Six River Terrace (opposite the Irish Hunger Memorial and next to Le Pain Quotidien restaurant) from 2:30 through 5:30 pm, and will include light refreshments, a slide show, a photo booth, arts and crafts, a group art project for families to participate in, and live music by Lou Gallo. Guests are asked to consider a suggested donation of $5.00 per person or $20.00 per family to help defray the celebration’s costs.
The Battery Park City Day Nursery’s 30th Anniversary celebration is made possible, in part, through a partnership with the Battery Park City Authority.