Grace Lo

Homeowner and community activist in Coney Island's West End for almost 30 years

Grace Lo and her family moved from Chinatown to Coney Island's West 35th Street in 1989 when they bought one of the homes built by Astella Development. Lo was elected Vice President of the West End Residents Association, which covers West 32nd to West 37th Streets between Mermaid and Neptune Avenues.  "At that time we were immigrants who took a chance to live in what people said was not a good neighborhood," Lo explains. "We wanted to make the community better." The association bought a used police car for a dollar and members took turns patrolling the streets at night with lights flashing.  Lo says after three or four years, the neighborhood improved.

In 2015,  the residents association was revived with Lo as president to deal with issues related to the City's stalled Build It Back program after Superstorm Sandy. A native of Canton, China, Lo first emigrated from Hong Kong to join her sister in New York at age 20.  She talks about the pleasures of gardening in her spacious front and back yard and the challenges of passing on Chinese customs to a generation educated in America.