Edward Kirkland, Who Helped Preserve Historic Chelsea, Dies at 96


And once he became convinced, he lent his support. “At every step of the High Line’s adaptive reuse, Ed was a passionate advocate for thoughtful city planning and the best interests of a community he held dear,” Mr. David said.

Tom Fox, the founding president of the Hudson River Park Conservancy, credited Mr. Kirkland with championing the Chelsea Waterside Park and the entire four-mile-long Hudson River Park, a devotion that has become “rare in this current age of advocacy increasingly focused on one’s self interest,” Mr. Fox said. The state authorized the park in 1998.

“He was a dogged community advocate, knowledgeable, irascible but flexible with a good sense of humor,” Mr. Fox said of Mr. Kirkland. “He played a major role in the park’s foundation.”

Simeon Bankoff, a former executive director of the Historic Districts Council, said Mr. Kirkland had “always regarded himself as a planner before being a doctrinaire preservationist.” He “wanted to preserve all the many historic aspects which still survived, while making room for new development which respected the historic forms of a neighborhood,” Mr. Bankoff said.

Edward Stevens Kirkland was born on June 15, 1925, in Providence, R.I., to Edward C. Kirkland, an economic historian, and June (Babson) Kirkland. He grew up in Rhode Island and Maine, where his father taught at Bowdoin College.

Mr. Kirkland served in the Army during World War II and was a prisoner of war in Germany, He earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth, where he studied French and math, and taught French at Williams College. He later worked as a computer programmer when he moved to New York and also supported himself with a modest inheritance.

In his work for historic preservation and in his service on the community board, from which he retired in 2012, Mr. Kirkland established a reputation for Old World gentility in a neighborhood more accustomed to intemperate name-calling.



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