Untitled ‘Eagle’ project: Library seeks new name for beloved bird statue

Untitled ‘Eagle’ project: Library seeks new name for beloved bird statue
Gregg Richards

It won’t be “the Brooklyn Eagle” for long.

Bookworms with the Brooklyn Public Library are asking readers to vote on a new name for the historic eagle statue currently perched in the lobby of the book lender’s Central Branch, which once nested on the Brooklyn Daily Eagle’s Dumbo headquarters until the newspaper closed in 1955 after a century in print.

Local readers can choose one of five monikers proposed by a team that included librarians, members of the book lender’s literary society the Brooklyn Eagles, and experts from Brooklyn Historical Society.

The names up for a vote include:

• “Ingersoll,” after former Borough President Raymond Ingersoll, who secured funding for the library’s Central Branch in Prospect Heights.

• “Winged Wonder,” in reference to an inscription adorning an exterior wall of the Central Branch, which reads, “Here is enshrined the magic word that winged wonder starts.”

• “Dodger,” after the Brooklyn Dodgers Major League Baseball team, which represented Kings County until the club’s traitorous move to Los Angeles in 1957.

• “Harmony,” because Brooklyn should represent harmony, of course.

• “Emily,” for Emily Warren Roebling, the heroine behind the Brooklyn Bridge, who shepherded construction of the legendary span to completion after her husband was crippled by Cassions Disease, or the bends.

The mascot of the former Brooklyn Daily Eagle — which bears no relationship to the current periodical of the same name — sat atop the newspaper’s old Washington Street headquarters until its demolition in 1955, when the statue was handed off to the Long Island Historical Society, now Brooklyn Historical Society.

The copper-cast creature dwelt in the lobby of the society’s Pierrepont Street headquarters in Brooklyn Heights until the 1960s. But the historians eventually loaned the eagle to the Brooklyn Museum from 1966 to 1987, and then in 1997 loaned it to the Brooklyn Public Library, where it has roosted in the Central Branch’s lobby ever since.

And in October of this year, Brooklyn Historical Society made its loan a permanent gift to the book lender.

Library patrons have until Dec. 13 to vote for their favorite name via the book lender’s website, and reading-room officials will announce the eagle’s new title before the end of the year.

But not every local is ready for the Brooklyn Eagle to get a new name. The founder and former owner of this newspaper, Ed Weintrob — who once coveted the legendary moniker for a planned borough-wide offshoot of his hyper-local broadsheet — said library leaders shouldn’t try to rename history.

“As far as renaming the eagle, it’s a terrible idea,” said Weintrob. “It’s the Brooklyn Eagle. It’s a key piece of history — why would they want to rename it?”

But the naming contest isn’t about changing the past — it’s about getting people to care about the historic statue in the present, according to head of the Brooklyn Historical Society.

“I think when people do contests like this, part of it is getting people to stop and pay attention to something they may not have thought about before,” said Deborah Schwartz. “It’s a playful way to use the internet and get people engaged in history.”

Vote for your favorite name for the eagle at www.bklynlibrary.org/name-bpls-historic-eagle-finalists.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.