After three years of exile from public life, the audacious urban renewer of New Haven. Boston and much of New York State has been quietly put in charge of treating the nation's largest urban sore - the South Bronx.
Nothing but expectations have been raised on its festering 6,000 acres since President Carter's visit a year ago, and finally the White House suggested that New York's city hall ask Logue to direct the billion-dollar South Bronx redevelopment program.
"The job is dangerous." Logue reflected the other day. "But it is exciting."
A stout and stouthearted man of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] -years with a rudy, youthful complexion, Logue has not the slightest doubt that if anyone can rehabilitate the South Bronx with its 170,000 inhabitants, he can. He has no problem being a Haussmann.
But who is his Napoleon III?
Baron Georges Eugene Haussmann, you will recall, was the prefect of Louis Napoleon who in the 1850s tranformed Paris from a romantic slum into the city we know and love.
In the muddle of a gaudy, confused and quarrelsome regime, Haussmann built miles of sewers, planted acres of parks and cut enormous boulevards through the jungle of old Paris.
He had, as one writer observed, "a backbone of steel." He pushed right through tumultous controversies with an eclat that often seemed ruthless. But he could not in just 15 years, have made Paris the wonder of his time - most European royalty climbed down to admire his sewers - without the backing of his emperor.
Louis Napoleon was not a strong ruler. But he knew, as his opponents did not, that if he could decently house the people and make their city as splendid as Louis XIV's Versailles, no one would ask what it cost and whose political toes were stepped on.
A hundred years later, Ed Logue was first heard of in glowing feature storeies about the urban renewal of New Haven. That was in the '50s when urban renewal was not yet a problem but a promised solution. In New Haven it seemed to work better than anywhere else, turning a city on the skids not into a Paris, perhaps, but into, say, a Lyon.
New Haven became Logue's - and urban renewal's - testing ground. That is where the young lawyer who had worked with Chester Bowles, the Conntcticut governor and ambassador to India, evolved his seven conditions for a successful urban recovery program.
Speaking slowly, appassionata, Logue enumerated: (1) comprehensive planning; (2) knowing where the money is coming from; (3) a fresh, non-political staff; (4) an organization that does not just plan but also builds; (5) one peron in charge with power to act; (6) peoples' participation at every step; and (7) full backing by the political leadership.
Logue, too, has "a backbone of steel"; and he too, had his Louis Napoleon. He was Mayor Richard Lee, and it is hard to tell whether Lee made Logue or Logue made Lee.
At any rate, with Logue's penchant for good design and hiring top architects even for such mundane projects as parking garages and fire houses, New Haven became the envy of every American city.
Subsequently Mayor John Collins offered the change to head Boston's renewal - but Logue would not accept until he made sure his seven conditions could and would be met. Collins agreed.
Boston's urban renewal program was a sordid mess when Logue arrived. But Collins provided the required leadership and six years of Logue's Haussmannian zeal wrought an astounding renaissance.
If you believe that America's old cities are inevitably doomed, visit Quincy Market.
In 1968, John Lindsay became mayor of New York City and invited Logue to take a look and see what he could do to polish the Big Apple and Lindsay's image. But he would not and perhaps could not meet the seven conditions.
But Nelson Rockefeller was willing.
Logue offered Rockefeller a blue-print for a new kind of instrumentality - a state-wide urban development corporation - with sweeping powers to assume the right of eminent domain, over-rule local building and zoning codes and raise bonds guaranteed by the "moral obligation of the state."
The governor bought it. The state legislature did not. Not, that is, until the terrible night in early April, 1968, when Martin Luther King Jr. was buried and the ghettos were burning. Urban Development Corporation (UDC) passed as an emergency measure, with Logue at its head.
Seven years later the new agency, following the "fast-track method" of its creator, completed more than 30,000 new apartments in over 100 buildings in 50 New York communities. It had built some $200 million worth of commercial and industrial enterprises and started three new towns.
Then Gov. Rockfeller moved to Washington. The old-line housing bureaucrats, whom Logue had perhaps too arrogantly bypassed, got to Gov. Malcolm Wilson with tales of UDC high-handedness and extravagance. The banks got nervous about UDC's default on $130 million "moral obligation" bonds.
It was the first tremor of New York's financial collapse. When Gov. Hugh Carey took over, he felt he could only save UDC by sacrificing Logue.
Then for about three years, the planner was without a project. He was offered the deanship of the University of Pennsylvania School of Fine Arts. But there is no need for a Baron Haussmann in academe.
The president of Logue Development Co. was offered a master builder job in Tehran - "another form of divorce," Logue shrugs. Besides, an Ed Logue needs a Logue-sized challenge. Unfathomably the Carter people passed him up when they organized the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He seemed tainted.
But then the president asked his assistant on urban matters, Jack H. Watson Jr., to see what could be done about the South Bronx. Watson called Logue. Logue said bluntly that he was the one.
Watson says Logue is not necessarily the only one . But after not necessary the White House was persuaded that Logue had the experience and competence to engage the private and public forces that need to be engaged.
Logue, try as he will, can hardly contain his excitement over getting back into harness. He sees visions of a rehabilitated Grand Concourse, the main street of the South Bronx.
"The area is bigger than all of New Haven," he says like a boy bragging about all the gadgets on his new bicycle.
"Of course we are not going to limit our efforts to housing," he goes on. "We need an economic approach, job creation, manpower training. We are spending a billion on welfare and education.
"I am confident about how to approach the problem," he says quietly, no doubt in the same self-assured manner in which the Baron reported to the Emperor.
But Logue's comeback was hardly noticed, and not only because of the newspaper strike. Moreover, it was stressed that the appointment was made at the behest of deputy mayor Herman Badillo. Mayor Edward Koch did not say much.
Napoleon III would have announced such an important event himself, from the throne, and with great aplomb.