The Militant(logo) 
    Vol.60/No.21           May 27, 1996 
Pathfinder Plans Major Repairs For Cracked Wall  

NEW YORK - Pathfinder Press has announced plans for major structural repairs to the wall of the Pathfinder Building on which its well-known six-story mural is painted. The building houses Pathfinder's editorial and business offices and printing plant.

Serious water and structural damage is now threatening the long-term usability of the building for Pathfinder's production of revolutionary books. The repair project will stop the water penetration through the brick and will add insulation to the building.

To carry out the needed repairs, the Pathfinder Mural will have to be removed so cracks in the wall can be mended and the entire surface covered with a protective layer of acrylic or a new siding. The repaired wall will have an attractive appearance and be a surface that can be used for painting a new mural in the coming years.

Estimates for the various repair methods being considered start at a minimum of $100,000. To carry out the project, Pathfinder is appealing to supporters for capital contributions of $1,000 or more. The work is scheduled to be completed before winter.

Supporters of the mural here are planning a range of activities and projects to continue the political legacy of the mural and sales of Pathfinder books.

Pathfinder supporters in Newark, New Jersey, have begun to investigate ways to erect a large reproduction of the mural on the new wall. Thousands of people around the world have heard about the mural, and many have visited over the years. Since it is located along a busy highway and recreation area on Manhattan's lower west side, many stop by the site to photograph the mural or buy a book at the adjacent Pathfinder Mural Bookstore.

In late June, before the repairs begin, local supporters are hosting an event to celebrate the mural project's contribution over the past decade to focusing attention on the history of the working-class movement and the writings of revolutionary leaders from around the world. The event will feature a program celebrating the mural that will help launch the new project to repair the wall. The lot in front of the wall will be beautified as part of upgrading the Pathfinder Mural Bookstore.

Pathfinder plans into 21st century
Greg McCartan, Pathfinder's editorial director, said in an interview, "Pathfinder's decision to make the repairs and appeal to supporters for substantial capital contributions comes from our long-term commitment to meet the need of workers, youth, and other fighters to read and discuss the revolutionary and Marxist books Pathfinder publishes and distributes, both now and into the 21st century.

"These books are indispensable to those fighting against imperialism's march toward fascism and war. They are a necessary component of the preparation for the great revolutionary struggles against capitalism that are ahead," he said.

"Our physical plant must be in good condition, as we take steps to increase our production of reprints and new books to meet the demands of increasing sales."

New titles Pathfinder will produce in the coming months include Capitalism's Growing World Disorder: Working-Class Politics in the 21st Century. It will contain a series of public talks and reports by Socialist Workers Party national secretary Jack Barnes in 1992-95. These documents, which have been adopted by the party's National Committee and conventions, summarize the SWP's view of the evolution of world politics since the onset of the world capitalist depression in the aftermath of the Gulf War.

Also planned is the English-language edition of the diary of Harry Villegas - known as Pombo - on the Bolivian guerrilla campaign led by Ernesto Che Guevara in the mid-1960s. Villegas is today a brigadier general in Cuba's army.

Pathfinder also plans to publish a French-language edition of An Action Program to Confront the Coming Economic Crisis.

Increased Pathfinder sales
"Our decision to repair the building has been reinforced by the initial successes of the campaign launched in January by socialist workers and youth to increase the sales of Pathfinder books," McCartan said.

"One important indicator of the difference this effort has made is the dramatic increase in sales to Pathfinder bookstores, the main distributors of Pathfinder books

"Orders from these bookstores for the first four months of 1996 totaled $59,000, compared to just under $70,000 for the entire year in 1995 - more than triple the amount sold to Pathfinder bookstores during the first four months of last year," McCartan noted. "Volunteer Pathfinder sales representatives have also begun to expand sales to retail bookstores, libraries, college bookstores, and other commercial outlets."

Pathfinder has been at its present location for nearly 25 years. Capital contributions and volunteer labor over these years have transformed the industrial building, erected in 1917-18, into a modern printing plant with professional offices. These improvements have led to increased capacity for those who work in the editorial offices and printshop to produce the books as well as lower operating costs.

Allocating substantial resources over decades for long-term capital needs such as plant facilities and printing presses, rather than using large contributions for operating costs, allows Pathfinder to have the production capacity to respond to increased sales opportunities as workers and youth reach for revolutionary and communist literature.

The most recent renovation of the building, and one of the most extensive, was carried out in 1991-92. More than 100 construction volunteers from several countries completely remodeled the editorial and business offices of Pathfinder as well as the Militant and Perspectiva Mundial, which are also housed in the building. The Socialist Workers Party national office was part of the new construction as well.

The volunteer crew also transformed an old warehouse that was part of the Pathfinder Building into a modern factory facility where the books are bound and finished. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for the project from hundreds of supporters.

The building had originally been constructed for industrial use. Heavy loads were put on the upper floors, which were used for ship repairs and as a parking garage. Recent inspections found cracks throughout the wall that had developed due to this stress.

Water penetration into the cracks and seepage into the wall as a whole have caused pieces of exterior brick to break off and metal structural elements to corrode. Where the outer skin of the brick breaks off, the porous interior is exposed. The deteriorated brick is vulnerable to water penetration. For this reason the rate of water damage and structural damage to the wall will accelerate until it is repaired.

Last winter, water penetrated through the brick and cracks in the south wall with every heavy rain, making it impossible to work in parts of the building for periods of time. Buckets and plastic sheets had to be used to prevent extensive water damage to the interior.

The Pathfinder Mural itself has chipped and faded from seven years of harsh weather conditions along the Hudson River. It would have to be completely repainted to restore it along with the repair of the wall, a several-year project that would involve massive financial resources.

Celebrate decade of Pathfinder mural
Supporters in the area are contacting artists who worked on the mural, those who have helped defend the mural from rightist attacks over the years, and all supporters of Pathfinder to attend the June celebration. Many people will want to take the time to see the mural again, or for the first time, in the next two months before the repair work begins.

Dedicated to the working people of New York and the world, the mural has become an international landmark, attracting thousands each year from around the country and around the world. This response is an affirmation of the power of the revolutionary ideas contained in the words on the painting of Pathfinder's printing press, which is a centerpiece of the mural -"The truth must not only be the truth; it must also be told"-a quote from Cuban president Fidel Castro.

The event will be hosted at the Pathfinder Mural Bookstore, which has been the first introduction to Pathfinder books for many visitors to the mural. Volunteers and contributions are being encouraged to prepare a permanent pictorial history of the mural for display in the bookstore.

The event will celebrate both the mural and Pathfinder's ongoing publishing plans. The mural itself commemorated the history of the working-class movement and the toilers who have given their lives in the fight for a just society, with portraits of revolutionary and Marxist leaders, and the efforts of Pathfinder and its predecessors to publish the writings and speeches of these leaders.

The celebration will highlight the history of the mural - the more than 80 volunteer artists from 20 countries who created it, the effective defense of the mural from political attacks and physical attempts to deface it, and Pathfinder's ongoing plans to publish and sell revolutionary literature. The mural has been an attractive publicizer of the books, appearing on many of Pathfinder's promotional materials and on the cover design of many Pathfinder reprints and new books.

Appeal for capital
McCartan explained that the more than $100,000 needed will come from capital contributions from supporters of Pathfinder in a position to give $1,000 or more. These contributions can come from trusts, accident settlements, bequests, and other windfalls. They have ranged from $1,000 to $10,000 to more than $100,000. Workers in unions have contributed bonuses and buyouts, putting these settlements from the capitalists to use for the long-term advancement of the communist movement.  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home