In 1946, Anna Intelisano (RIP), my grandmother, came to the USA by herself, speaking no English, and leaving her 4 year-son, (my Father Robert Sr.), and her husband Salvatore Intelisano in Sicily. Anna was 29 and left a middle-class lifestyle in search of “The American Dream!”
It did not start well as she started as a maid cleaning floors, then worked her way up to be a sample dressmaker for a young upstart designer named Diane Von Furstenberg in the late 1970’s. Anna was an outstanding cook and always made extra food which she would bring to work. Diane was known to stop by Anna’s workstation on a regular basis and ask, “Anna, what are we having for lunch today?” Diane, a Belgian designer, is best known for her wrap dress and found “The American Dream.”
Diane Von Furstenberg went on to do great things; however, this could be her best gift to the USA and the world! Her foundation, The Barry Diller-Von Furstenberg Family Foundation gifted $260 million and earmarked another $120 million for the building and maintenance of the newest public park called “The Little Island!” It is estimated that this $380 million investment will yield billions in tourist revenues over the years!
The Little Island
My sister, (in-law) Stacey Reiss, visited The Little Island opening week and described it as, “A beautiful gift to the city of New York… truly one of those special places that only happen once in a decade or so, like the Highline or Brooklyn Bridge Park. It is what makes New York City so spectacular, public art and spaces that are accessible to all.”
One of the ways New York can and will bounce back is with the return of tourism. As we make a comeback, tourist books, websites and magazines will be re-written including “The Little Island,” and this is another reason why people will visit New York City!
My Top 10 Reasons to Visit the Little Island:
There are many people and foundations that give to our city; however, this is the type of gift that keeps on giving. Thank you to the Diller-Von Furstenberg Family Foundation. This is what “The American Dream” is all about!