The mystery of the surreptitious sign-maker has been solved!
Okay, so it’s not exactly the Bermuda Triangle enigma, but for years, many Brooklyn Heights residents have wondered about the unknown person who had been secretly hanging hand-painted wooden signs in Cadman Plaza Park to guide visitors to the famed, but impossible-to-find, Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian pathway.
And now, at long last, The Brooklyn Paper has found out who she is: Roslyn Beck.
We’d like to say we discovered Beck through diligent, boot-leather reporting. But in reality, she was generous enough to write us a letter — a letter! — after we mentioned her then-anonymous handiwork in an article last month.
That story was about a plan to install 110 signs throughout Downtown that will lead tourists to many attractions, including the footpath. The signs, to be installed by the Metrotech BID, will replace the current hodgepodge of dirt- and graffiti-covered civic placards that are hard to find and nearly impossible to read.
That’s in contrast to Beck’s, whose white wood, black-lettered signs remain mostly clean and readable.
She hangs them by herself, sneaking into the park after dark to help hapless tourists who get off the High Street subway and promptly get lost.
In so doing, Beck is flouting Parks Department regulations, not to mention human nature’s tendency toward apathy.
“What’s so depressing is the Parks Department regularly removes the signs,” said Beck, picking at a sticker someone had stuck on a sign at the Cadman Plaza West entrance to the park.
But the Parks Department argues that it only removes Beck’s signs when they’re damaged.
“We don’t intentionally remove the signs,” said Phil Abramson, an agency spokesman. “It’s just that they are often damaged from the weather.”
Beck is quite an unlikely rebel in red hat and matching gloves. The lifelong Brooklynite, who taught at Long Island University for 35 years and officiated at grand-slam tennis tournaments on the side, said she is motivated by nothing but goodwill.
“People should have some information,” she said. “You want to be helpful to people.”
And helpful she is. Not only does she post signs, but she routinely personally directs tourists to the Promenade, Fulton Ferry, and, of course, the Brooklyn Bridge pathway. In fact, that’s exactly what she was doing when we met up with her on Wednesday.
The Metrotech BID has promised that its new signs will be multi-colored and made from “high-quality materials,” not scrap lumber like Beck’s. They’ve also promised to maintain them.
“If so, I will relinquish my sign-posting activities as soon as they’re put up,” Beck added with a laugh.