'No hable Español' at London Terrace Gardens
In 1929 real estate developer Henry
Mandel owned one city block between Ninth and Tenth streets in
Manhattan between 23rd and 24th and intended to build the world's
largest apartment building under the name London Terrace Gardens. In
the building's heyday it had all the luxury amenities -- some of which
are still in use including the 75-foot by 35-foot swimming pool, roof
deck, and gardens.
In 1934 however after the developer went broke and was forced into
foreclosure -- Mandel leaped from the top of the building to his death.
Times have indeed changed in the New York City neighborhood known as
Chelsea from what some called 'millionaire's row' back then to a mix of
tenements, high rises, night clubs, and the city's gay ghetto.
London Terrace Gardens is only part of what the original building
complex once was and now consists of two corner towers that turned
co-op (owner occupied) in 1987. And now, according to a memo released
to the press by an anonymous source, London Terrace Gardens management
requires all employees to speak only in English.
In a memo dated 11 January 2007 all employees were ordered to "speak
English in all public areas as well as on two-way radios." As with most
servile jobs in the United States - many employees are no longer
native-born citizens, as was the case in Mandel's day, but the Spanish
workers identify themselves as Hispanic.
One of the building's doormen George Guzman told the New York Post that he felt the
English only speech requirement was poor policy..."I can't work without
Spanish," Guzman said. "How do we talk to delivery boys who only speak
Spanish? I have to speak Spanish."
A resident of London Terrace, and long-time friend of Think & Ask's
publisher, said of the policy, "It is the right decision. If they
(Spanish-speaking people) come to New York, how do they expect to
communicate and participate if they do not speak the lingo -- English?"
Meanwhile, the union representing some workers at London Terrace
disagrees with the decision. SEIU Local 32BJ determined that such
policy was in violation of federal civil rights.
Building management contends the memo was taken out of context and does
not preclude employees from speaking other languages in private
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