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For many decades, the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes stood as a beloved neighborhood landmark. Built into the corner of 2 Aberdeen Street at the intersection of Aberdeen and Broadway, the stone structure housed a statue of the Virgin Mary. Several generations of locals considered it to be a sacred space; a place where they could pause, reflect, ask for mercies, or meditate.

“The grotto was a special place in our lives,” says local Robert LaRosa. “Every time I’d pass by, I’d have my special silent prayer.”

But the grotto was torn down last week, much to the chagrin of hundreds of Bushwick residents, several of whom visited the scene to collect stones from the rubble and pay their respects.