DEFEND IRISH AMERICAN HERITAGE
Restore “Fitzgerald Square”
as the name for
Alexandria’s Waterfront Park
On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2018, the very day set aside to remember our Irish American history, the City Council of Alexandria, Virginia, without provocation or explanation, stripped the Irish name “Fitzgerald” from the waterfront park project in Old Town Alexandria. Fitzgerald was part of the city’s waterfront plan for over eight years! This was the first project to recognize Irish Americans who contributed to the City, the waterfront, and our military. Instead of celebrating Alexandria’s deep Irish and patriotic past, the City Council renamed the park after a street recalling our colonial subjugation.
They did this on St. Patrick’s Day in front of the warehouse and public buildings once owned by Irish immigrant Col. John Fitzgerald, who according to the City of Alexandria webpage (https://www.alexandriava.gov/uploadedFiles/planning/info/Waterfront/A6_History%20Appendix(1).pdf) document A.6 Alexandria City Waterfront History Plan – Alexandria, A living History, page 59:
“5) On south side of King Street, interpretive artwork about the importance of immigration to Alexandria‘s growth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Recognize the Irish who created this wharf and traded here.”
and on page 98: “Fitzgerald’s Wharf (foot of King Street, south side)
John Fitzgerald, an Irish immigrant of the Revolutionary Generation, banked out to create the land in the 100 and 0 blocks of north side of King Street with Valentine Peers after returning from the war. Distrusting the British, both Fitzgerald and Peers had contributed their trading profits to help Bostonians during the English blockade before the War. Another Alexandrian close to George Washington, he served as the general’s aide-de-camp and was at Valley Forge. Washington wrote a letter supporting Fitzgerald as the Collector of Customs in 1791. A committed citizen and businessman, he was a founder/director of the Alexandria Library, Bank of Alexandria, Potomac Company, and a Catholic who helped in the creation of St. Mary’s Church and cemetery. He imported Irish linen with fellow Irishman Peers and exported wheat and then moved on to a wide assortment of European goods and wines. He was also involved in the Wales Brewery located on the 100 block of South Union Street and was a partner with Daniel Roberdeau in a distiller on Wolfe Street. Fitzgerald’s Warehouse stands at the southeast corner of King and Union streets and is the oldest structure to survive on the waterfront. Fitzgerald’s Wharf is now the Old Dominion Boat Club parking lot east of the Strand. *Medallion of the 1803 Plan of Alexandria”
In that very place where Col. Fitzgerald helped build Alexandria, the City Council of Alexandria renamed the Fitzgerald Square project to the ‘King Street Park at the Waterfront.” We the undersigned:
- Demand transparency and justice. Identify who changed the name in secret, and why. Incompetence? Racism? Bigotry?
- City Council of Alexandria and the Planning Commission of Alexandria immediately restore the name Fitzgerald Square to the waterfront project and institute changes to the project plans that emphasize the City’s deep Irish American past and current culture.
SIGN THE PETITION ON CHANGE.ORG link: