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MAS believes 2013 presents New York City with a truly unique opportunity. Madison Square Garden’s 50-year special permit to operate an arena use on its current site has expired. In December 2012, Madison Square Garden filed an application to continue to operate an arena on this site in perpetuity and that request is now going through the City’s land use review process with a final decision by the City Council in late June/early July. NYC deserves a world-class train station and truly dynamic arena but if we approve the Garden’s special permit in perpetuity we will have neither. MAS strongly believes that now is the time to lay out a clear plan for New York City which presents a more ambitious and optimistic vision and moves the conversation beyond incremental and insufficient improvements to a fundamentally flawed plan. The city needs to do the right thing — and set as its goal a new Penn Station and a new arena in 10 years. The 1963 plan for MSG and Penn Station – designed by architect Charles Luckman – was developed at a time when the future of train travel was less certain and when approximately 200,000 people per day were using Penn Station. Today, New York has a station that was designed for approximately 200,000 but moves 640,000 people daily. Madison Square Garden, although it has undergone an expensive renovation continues to fall further behind as new more modern arenas are built. What should be one of the most exciting and dynamic buildings in New York City is unfortunately one of the least. Over the years many alternative locations have been suggested for MSG and the work will explore which sites offer the greatest opportunity. A new Penn Station and a new arena will be an economic engine for New York City – creating thousands of jobs, unlocking billions of dollars in additional private investment, making millions of commutes a year faster and more comfortable.

Hana Albert reports for Curbed New York

Turns out 1913 is the year of New York centennials—at least, architecturally speaking. Blockbuster landmarks Grand Central Terminal and the Woolworth Building have hogged much of the glory thus far, but it's only March. We've rounded up 11 other buildings that are celebrating their 100th birthdays this year, and the motley assortment of century-old structures tells us a little something about the pre-WW1 city of yore. For one, showbiz and Broadway were booming, with four now-landmarked theaters opening their doors in Midtown and one up in Hamilton Heights. Other office buildings, like J.P Morgan's headquarters at 23 Wall Street, the Times Square Building (longtime erstwhile home of the New York Times), and the World's Tower Building, sprang up as an era of frenzied skyscraper construction came to a close before the war. Oddballs include that other Grand Army Plaza, at Central Park South and 59th Street, and a residential building in Clinton Hill that boasts beautiful carvings.

1. 23 Wall Street  

Located at the intersection of Wall Street and Broad, this classical-looking building with long-gone chandeliered interiors is remembered as the headquarters of J.P. Morgan & Co. Apparently, it was so inextricably associated with the business giant that it was even known as the "House of Morgan." A tumultuous and attention-getting history ensued after 1913—home to an infamous 1920 bombing, it appeared in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), and now has decidedly less glamorous retail space on the ground floor.

2. The Woolworth Building

The iconic green-topped Woolworth Building opened its doors on April 24, 1913. The green-topped physical manifestation of five-and-dime baron Frank Woolworth's fortune, it was, for 16 years after its completion, the tallest building the city. There's an exhibition at the Skyscraper Museum till July to honor its 100th birthday. But one day, you could even live there, since the top floors are being converted into luxury condos that are set to hit the market in 2015.

3. Times Square Building

The Gray Lady called this building home for 90 years before moving to its Renzo Piano-designed skyscraper on Eighth Avenue. Now that those darn journalists are out, it's home to some offices and a bowling alley.

4. Shubert Theatre

Originally opened 100 years ago by British actor Johnston Forbes-Robertson, the first productions to grace its stage were Shakespearean: "Hamlet," "The Merchant of Venice," and "Othello." During Broadway's golden age and beyond, stars' names were constantly lit up on its iconic marquee, from Ingrid Bergman and Barbara Streisand to Rex Harrison and Gene Kelly. Frescoed outside and full of plasterwork and painted panels inside, "Spamalot" and "Memphis" were its recent blockbusters, while "Matilda" is currently playing.

5. Booth Theatre

Another theater built by Lee Shubert, it opened the same year as the Shubert Theater and is located one block away, though its back abuts the Shubert's and the two structures are meant to be seen as a seamless whole. Though less ornate on the whole, the Booth Theater's stage has seen the likes of old- and new-world boldface names, like Henry Fonda, Ralph Fiennes, and Vanessa Redgrave.

6. Longacre Theatre

Yet another theatrical venue now overseen by the Shubert Organization, this one was named for Longacre Square, which today is universally known as Times Square. Back in the 1920s, Ethel Barrymore took the stage for three productions; in 2012, it hosted Mike Tyson's one-man show. What a century.

7. Cort Theatre

"The Cort is the only surviving, still active, legitimate theatre designed by Thomas Lamb. Its classic exterior was inspired by the 18th-century French Petit Trianon at Versailles," says its official history. Grace Kelly made her Broadway debut here, and the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Al Pacino, John Leguizamo, and others all had starring roles in the Cort's productions.

8. Charles Scribner's Sons Building

Originally built to house the Scribner's Bookstore, this Beaux Arts beauty has a detailed facade that, appropriately, includes four busts of major printers. Designated a landmark in 1982, it is now home to a ground-level Sephora (one of many elegant old New York buildings, in fact, now occupied by a chain store) with offices above.

9. Grand Central Terminal

The station has been planning its 100th birthday party for months now, which includes tons of publicity buzz and a full schedule of concerts, events, and special speeches (official site). There are a ton of little-known facts about this preservationists' gem, such as an art school once occupied the seventh floor or CBS broadcast the 1960 Olympics from studios in the terminal (they are now tennis courts).

10. The World's Tower Building

Renovated in 2008, Edward Browning constructed this 25-story tower with the fanciful idea that he could put a runway for airplanes on the roof so he could arrive and depart in style. (It never happened. Remember, this was 1913.) To prospective tenants at the time, high-speed elevators, just like in the Woolworth Building (oooh, competition), were touted.

11. Grand Army Plaza

Not to be confused with Brooklyn's plaza of the same name, this one is located at the juncture of Central Park South and the former Plaza Hotel, with part north and south of 59th Street. It has a fountain and other decorative elements in the Beaux-Arts style popular at the time and got spiffed up during a $3.7 million renovation in 1990.

12. Hamilton Theatre

There's been some recent action (a dumpster filled with debris, says our tipster) in front of the Hamilton Theatre, a landmarked building that dates back to 1913. The stage itself has been dark for years (the building's interior is, accordingly, beautifully decrepit), but since the dollar store on the ground closed its doors, area residents have been buzzing that it's destined to get turned into a complex of condos while keeping the protected facade and other elements intact.

13. Royal Castle Apartments

This Beaux Arts beauty in Clinton Hill has intricate carvings of stone masons on its facade, which Ephemeral New York says is a constant reminder of the kind of skilled work that goes into constructing a building like this. Brownstoner comments that "the shape of the roofline would be at home in Vienna." After 100 years, people still live in this 52-unit building at the corner of Gates and Clinton avenues.

It used to be known as the Grand Central of the Bronx, a train administration center that later became a subway station that slid into disrepair has been restored. The MTA reports, The MTA’s top-to-bottom rehabilitation of the East 180th Street 25 subway station has recaptured the grandeur its original builders had in mind when the century-old North Bronx transit terminal served as the administration building for the old New York, Westchester and Boston Railway system. The two-year, $66.5 million project breathed new life into the unique subway station that serves the and lines and is a major link to two major Bronx attractions – the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Gardens. Designed and built during a period when riding the rails was a grand experience rather than bookends to a work day, the structure is a handsome example of early 20th Century architectural design that has long stood as a community landmark. “This beautifully renovated station is a tribute to the Bronx and provides an uplifting experience for everyone who passes through it,” said MTA Acting Chairman Fernando Ferrer. “I’m very pleased the MTA has restored an element of the Bronx’s glory while improving the daily commutes of its residents.” The stucco, red terra cotta-tiled roof building boasts a pair of four-story towers, entry courtyard and a handsome clock, which replicates the original timepiece in place when the structure was built. The building was designed with arches and balconies that give it the distinct look of an Italian villa. On the exterior is a restored plaque topped with the head of Mercury, the Roman god of transportation. “The subject of this project serves to demonstrate the architectural variety of the New York City subway system and the care and effort that goes into maintaining the system and restoring elements to their original appearance,” said NYC Transit President Thomas F. Prendergast. “The East 180th Street Station was built to a grand design by its original operator and we have taken the opportunity to return it to as close to its original condition as possible.” Work on the station required restoration of the landmark building’s exterior walls, windows, stucco work, roof tiles wood doors and mezzanine areas. Of course, this type of work required skilled craftspeople. There are two retail spaces in the station’s lobby, as well as NYC Transit employee facilities for Rapid Transit Operations, Signals and Structures. “This was a tremendously rewarding job, bringing the station back up to a state of good repair and restoring the aesthetic features that make it stand out. East 180th Street will be a welcoming structure for Bronx subway customers for many decades to come,” said Program Officer Dilip Patel. Major portions of the project, designed by Lee Harris Pomeroy Architects, included the refurbishment of the mezzanine passage with new tile work and ornamental mosaic bands and the introduction of mosaic panels designed under guidance of the MTA Arts for Transit program. The station’s side entrance has been rehabilitated and the designs of both passageways are marked by large spans of structural steel overhead, painted a pale green the same as they were when the station was first opened. New lighting has been installed on the building’s interior and exterior, making the station as attractive by night as by day. The elevated subway platforms have similarly been rehabilitated, including new platforms, edge safety tiles, canopies and track beds. ADA compliance is achieved through a new pathway that allows wheelchair access and the installation of two elevators that link the mezzanine to the platforms. New tile work and ornamental mosaic bands and panels have been installed. Designed by artist Luisa Caldwell under the MTA Arts for Transit program, the panels reflect the surrounding area and the nearby Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Gardens. One important element was donated to the project by construction contractor Citnalta. Company President Mike Gargiulo visited the job and felt that the historic building was missing just one thing – a clock. Having studied historical preservation in college, he thought a clock would add a lot to the project. Some electronic sleuthing turned up old images showing the original clock. A similar item was sourced from Electric Time Co. in Massachusetts. The old images were sent up to them and they suggested a clock that would fit the design of the early 20th Century transportation building. “We at Citnalta, with NYC Transit’s and Lee Harris Pomeroy’s permission, donated the clock and the installation, because we thought it completed the look, making a great renovation just a little bit nicer,” said Gargiulo. The northern segment of the 5 train, known as the Dyre Avenue Line of the New York City subway system, was once part of an electrified commuter railway connecting the South Bronx with White Plains and Port Chester in Westchester County. Owned by the New Haven Railroad, the New York Westchester and Boston Railway were short-lived, in service only between 1912 and 1937. New York City took ownership of the Bronx portion of the line in 1940 and tied into the IRT at East 180th Street.
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56 Leonard signs $30M Worth of Contracts

After only about a week on the market, four of the 145 units at the luxury condominium building at 56 Leonard Street in Tribeca are in contract, Curbed reported. The long stalled project restarted construction in October and put its first round of units on the market on Feb. 28. The contracted prices for the four units range in price from $4.3 million for a 1,691-square-foot two-bedroom unit to $10.5 million for a 3,412- square-foot four-bedroom unit. A 2,252-square-foot three-bedroom is also in contract for $5.5 million. The 830-foot Herzog & de Meuron–designed development project is being marketed by Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, which in less than a week has generated over $30 million in sales at the building between the four in contract units. “This has been a landmark initiative and a long-held dream,” Kelly Kennedy Mack, president of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, said in a January statement.” [Curbed] –Christopher Cameron
150 Wooster Street A group of Soho artists have filed a lawsuit against the city Landmarks Preservation Commission demanding that the agency reverse an October decision allowing a developer to raze a MacLaren baby stroller store to build condominiums, DNAinfo reported. LPC approved the demolition on the grounds that the property, at 150 Wooster Street, “does not contribute to the historic district and its demolition will not detract from the special historic and architectural character of the historic district.” As The Real Deal reported last year, the stroller store will give way to seven high-end residences and 6,300 square feet of retail. The developer behind the project is MTM Associates, an affiliate of MacLaren that has owned the property for decades. The artists claim that new construction would change the block’s character, bring more foot traffic and block sunlight. “And if they build a store that large,” the plaintiffs allege in the suit, “it will be a mall-type store. We’re trying to keep more mall-type stores out of Soho.” A Wooster Street artist named Joyce Kozloff told DNAinfo that the LPC has recently favored large developers over concerns of the community. However, the city law department that represents the LPC disputed this claim. “As the proceedings before the Landmarks Commission reflect, and as will be demonstrated to the court, the Commission’s actions with respect to this building have not only been consistent, but also appropriate to the special features of the Soho-Cast Iron Historic District,” senior counsel Pamela Koplik told DNAinfo in a statement. [DNAinfo]–Zachary Kussin
  The original architects of the Pan Am Worldport might have hoped that the building would fit in perfectly with the landscape of the new millennium. The terminal at New York’s JFK Airport was built in 1960 by Ives, Turano & Gardner Associated Architects in the shape of a futuristic flying saucer. It made its mark on American cultural history by sending off the Beatles after their first U.S. tour and . Pan Am shuttered its ticket windows in 1991, but the Worldport still serves as a reminder that air travel was once seen as an exotic luxury, rather than a nuisance-riddled necessity. Although the Worldport is iconic, its current tenant, Delta Airlines, is planning to dismantle the structure, now known as Terminal 3, in 2015 to make way for a $1.2 billion expansion of neighboring Terminal 4. The original Worldport space will eventually be used as a parking lot for aircraft. Recently, an online campaign to preserve the terminal has been gaining traction, spearheaded by aviation enthusiast Kalev Savi and partner Anthony Stramaglia. Save The Pan Am Worldport aims to keep this iconic piece of aviation architecture from being demolished, and to see it refurbished and repurposed for new generations of jet-setters. "You just don’t see buildings like that anymore constructed at airports," says Stramaglia. "Now a terminal is more like a warehouse than a showpiece. This building is more of an art form." Savi and Stramaglia started an online petition a little over a year ago that has garnered 1,818 signatures so far. Their current project is to get the Worldport approved for New York Landmark Status, with the eventual hope that it will be recognized with a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Other terminals and structures at JFK have been recognized for their historic significance over the years, including the TWA Flight Center, a swooping dome that was completed in 1962 and designed by renowned Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. (It was also added to the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2003.) "In some people’s mind, that was the building worth saving," Savi says. "This criticism that there’s no famous architect associated with [the Worldport] I find to be a moot point." The New York Port Authority and Delta Airlines have said that the Worldport is beyond repair, and upkeep and maintenance have become impractical and costly. "It’s not an asset you can recover at this point," Delta CEO Richard Anderson was quoted as saying in The Architect’s Newspaper in 2010. Other complaints about the space include its small, cramped feel with the addition of baggage screening and TSA security checkpoints, which the architects didn’t have to consider in their original plans. It underwent a renovation in 1971 to accommodate the Boeing 747, but the interior space is still lagging behind modern airport standards. So far, the New York Port Authority and Delta haven’t responded to the campaign. Savi and Stramaglia think that the structure could be preserved with some outside-the-box thinking, and they argue that, in an age of generic cookie-cutter airports, Delta could make a branding statement by repurposing the building, or even housing an aviation history museum inside the terminal. They also posit that tearing the terminal down and paving it over is twice as expensive as the cost of repair and refurbishment. Save The Pan Am Worldport shows no signs of slowing down, and Savi and Stramaglia are hoping that they’ll be able to win some immunity from demolition for the flying saucer portion of the terminal before 2015. "It should be something that the public can enjoy, that can help them remember significant events from the past," Savi says. "It should be something that people want to go to." This post originally appeared on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Preservation Nation blog, an Atlantic partner site. Kate Flynn is an editorial intern at Preservation magazine. Her work has appeared online at the Washington Post and in Consequence of Sound, a music and culture blog.
815 Fifth Avenue is sandwiched between 812 Fifth Avenue and 817 Fifth Avenue On an historic, stately stretch of Fifth Avenue, a proposal by a Brazilian developer for a luxury high-rise is threatening to disrupt the peace. Residents of two Central Park-facing buildings, at 812 and 817 Fifth Avenue, are gearing up to fight a structure planned for 815 Fifth Avenue that they described in a letter to fellow residents as “contemporary” and “incompatible” with the character of the neighborhood, The Real Deal has learned. Paperwork filed with the Department of Buildings calls for a 15-story building with a dozen apartments as well as partial demolition of a six-story building, which records show is the oldest structure on Fifth Avenue between 59th and 110th streets. JHSF Participacoes S.A., based in Brazil, is named on renderings of the project, although the official documents list the developer as Eight Hundred and Fifteen Fifth Avenue, a limited liability company. JHSF has developed more than 19 million square feet of real estate in Sao Paulo. Brazilian banking magnate Sergio Millerman, the former CEO of Safra National Bank of New York and a consultant to the Safra Group, the Brazil-based international banking empire, is named in official documents as an adviser to the project. A spokesperson for Millerman told The Real Deal that the owners of the project are “highly sensitive to the history of the area” and will proceed in a manner that is “consistent with that sensitivity.” While the spokesperson confirmed that Millerman is assisting the developer on the project, he declined to comment on the identity of the developer. The board of managers for 817 Fifth Avenue sent the Feb. 13 letter opposing the project to both residents of both their building and 812 Fifth Avenue. The letter called for the residents to speak out against the development at a community board hearing last night. The developer presented the proposal Feb. 11 to Community Board 8′s Landmarks Committee, an advisory panel. The Landmarks Committee unanimously rejected the building, calling it “incompatible with the character of the block,” the letter said. The project can still move ahead, however, if the Landmarks Preservation Commission signs off on it. The new building would be 200 feet tall, nearly triple the height of the existing 80-foot-tall structure, according to papers filed with the Department of Buildings. The architect, Timothy Greer of Connecticut-based TP Greer Architects, said he has been working closely with the landmarks commission over the last few months to create a building with will be “senstitive to and consistent with the established architectural character and scale of Fifth Avenue.” While a spokesperson for the Landmarks Preservation Commission could not comment directly on the project, which is in an historic district, she said any new building within such a district should be “consistent with the height and shape of the other buildings in the district” in order to obtain necessary approvals from the LPC. “Whether it is a contemporary design or a contextual, more traditional design, the façade composition, scale, materials and details should have some relationship to the buildings in this historic district which can be abstract or literal,” she said. Residents on the upper floors of 812 and 817 Fifth Avenue are concerned the proposed development will block their views, bringing down their property values. At 817 Fifth Avenue, the views are to the south; residents of 812 Fifth Avenue look to the north. Jewelry designer Janet Yaseen, a resident of 812 Fifth Avenue, said residents of her building stood “shoulder to shoulder” with residents of 817 Fifth Avenue in the dispute. The building on the site, designed by Samuel A. Warner, went up in 1871. Once a single-family home owned by hotel owner James Stewart Cushman and wife Verna, the brownstone today houses 12 apartments and two offices. Real estate investor Robert Haskell sold the building to JHSF last year for $32 million, public records show, $7 million over its asking price. Both 812 and 817 Fifth Avenue have been home to celebrities and the city’s biggest power players. Actor Richard Gere, business magnate Steve Wynn and socialite Courtney Sale Ross have lived at 817 Fifth Avenue; New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller and his wife, Mary “Tod” Rockefeller, had a home in 812 Fifth Avenue.
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Iconic O'Toole Retooled

Claire Wilson writes for Oculus magazine about Perkins Eastman's LPC-approved restoration and redesign of the O'Toole building. [gallery]
The Tall Elephants in the Room Building additions that don't disappear into their surroundings shouldn't be done. By Aaron Betsky There seem to be a lot of elephants hiding in plain sight these days. Now that we are coming out of the five-year recession that stymied large-scale construction, cranes are swinging into action and developers are dusting off their laser-cut models and festive renderings. And not just for cities in far-off continents. Major cities in America will be the recipient of a spate of new, tall buildings, but some of them claim to be barely there. In Los Angeles, work will finally begin on the two triangular towers, which I wrote about more than a year ago. They will sit right behind the Minoru Yamasaki–designed Century Plaza hotel, a curved recipient of the axis the architect drew from his own triangular versions of the World Trade Center towers. That line was already interrupted by a hideous office block a number of years ago, and there were plans to tear down the hotel. Luckily, saner minds prevailed. The new, Pei Cobb Freed–designed behemoths are triangular, though also curved and with what look like rather fussy façades. Will these two slender exclamation points echo the original skyscrapers? Perhaps, though their form is too weak to make much of a point. They will also be so close to the hotel (which midcentury modern savior Marmol Radziner is renovating) that you wonder whether anybody except for dedicated exhibitionists will want to stay in the west-facing rooms that used to have views all the way to the Pacific. The $2 billion, 1.5 million square-foot redevelopment will also surround the hotel with a shopping mall, leaving it rather marooned. In New York, two similar towers, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, will rise on a new platform over the Pennsylvania Station rail yards. As in L.A., the whole development also includes a late modernist building, in this case the former home of the New York Daily News, which will be redesigned by REX. This one is a doozy, no less than 5.4 million square feet, much of it in the two 60-story towers. Those will be slicker than their L.A. counterparts, and they are shaved and angled in the manner that has become all the rage since computer technology enabled former students of deconstructivism to manipulate their grown-up towers. This twin will form the backdrop to the Farley Post Office Building, a now largely empty stone bunker that will someday perhaps be the new Pennsylvania Train Station. More recessive and more removed than the Century City towers, these might work, especially if they are joined by the forest of skyscrapers currently planned to sit even further west over the rail yards. Finally, in-between these two, there is the ongoing saga of Bertram Goldberg’s Prentice Hospital, which I have also previously written about. While we await the judicial procedure to run its course, it is interesting to me that all the images that argue for its preservation show it embedded in a mass of structure that makes me think that you might as well tear it down. Many of these images come from a competition last summer (the winner, by Cyril Marsollier and Wallo Villacorta, is particularly egregious), though Studio Gang has added its own variant, a tower on top of cloverleaf structure that—at least in the rendering—will float above it all. Looking at these designs, and then back at the Century Plaza, I am afraid I would say in both cases, and despite my support for preservation: Tear them down. Buildings are designed for a particular use, context, and culture. When those conditions change so much that the building can only continue to exist as a relic with impaired use, what’s the point? Either radically rethink the structure itself, as will happen with the Farley Building, or just start anew. Aaron Betsky is a regularly featured columnist whose stories appear on this website each week. His views and conclusions are not necessarily those of ARCHITECT magazine nor of the American Institute of Architects.
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Recent LPC Designation Hearings

Updates from the HDC blog about recent LPC designation hearings.
Two long-sought-after historic districts finally got public hearings at the Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday.   The two districts, both of which community members have been advocating for years for consideration, were originally scheduled for an October hearing at LPC, but that meeting was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.
  53 Harrison Street Since 1976, the Mud Lane Society for the Renaissance of Stapleton has been campaigning for the protection of their lovely Staten Island neighborhood. HDC has been actively working with the group and Stapleton residents since 2003 to help gain landmark designation for areas in the neighborhood (the St. Paul Avenue – Stapleton Heights HD was designated in 2004), and the Mud Lane Society was recently chosen to be one of 2013’s “Six to Celebrate”, so we were thrilled that this district was finally having a hearing. Hosting a wide range of late 19th-century architectural styles on a single block, the proposed Harrison Street Historic District has a hidden history which is easily overlooked but contributes greatly to its distinct sense of place.  Since its first development in the mid 19th century, the cul-de-sac has had only one teardown on the block.   All the buildings, regardless of cosmetic alterations, are the original structures on their site, a rare occurrence in our city.  Furthermore, the homes on Harrison Street were mostly built by local designers and builders, a fact which opens a window into Staten Island’s architectural and urban design history in an unexpected and unusual way. Twenty-four people testified on the district, twenty in favor of designation.   The vast majority of the supporters were residents or owners of the proposed district and owners of landmarked properties nearby on Staten Island.   The latter spoke of their good experiences owning a landmark and working with LPC. The opposition were largely concerned about the possibility of increased costs for maintenance and the infringement on their property rights. Halsey Street When HDC chose the first class of our “Six to Celebrate” in 2011, placing Bedford-Stuyvesant on that list was an obvious choice, given the architectural quality of the neighborhood, the significance of its history to New York City and the strength of its community. The approximately 800 buildings in the proposed Bedford Historic District are primarily well-preserved rowhouses and small apartment buildings from the last quarter of the 19th century.  Prominent Brooklyn architects such as Montrose Morris and Isaac D. Reynolds designed many of the blocks.  In addition to its late-19th century streetscapes, Bedford-Stuyvesant is noted for being the home to one of the nation’s largest and best-known African-American and Caribbean-American communities throughout most of the 20th century and into today. Stuyvesant Heights was designated in 1971, and an extension to the district was heard in 1993.  Revived interest in landmarking got the extension a second hearing in 2011 and a positive vote on the district is expected soon.  The Bedford community, well informed about landmarking thanks to the tireless work of Bedford-Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation, jumped in line to be next. Seeing the crowd who attended the Bedford hearing, LPC commissioner Elizabeth Ryan exclaimed, “Quite the turn out!”. By our count, thirty-six people testified, and twenty-eight of them supported the district, including Councilmember Al Vann, a representative from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s office, Brooklyn Community Board 3, and numerous residents.  Neighborhood residents strongly stated their case for designation, saying it would help protect their community from those who would destroy it through unregulated profit and that a historic district designation would honor the commitment of the longtime residents who stewarded the neighborhood through hard times. Opponents of the designation mostly complained about the process – that the hearing was held in Manhattan during business hours rather than in the neighborhood in the evening and their perceived lack of education and outreach. The latter claim that was strongly disputed by ourselves and others (such as the district manager of Community Board 3), citing  the three community meetings and two informational sessions held by the LPC (to say nothing of the numerous public, community and block association meetings that we have spoken at over the past three years). For more details on the hearing, see today’s article by David Dunlap in The New York Times: No decision was made and the record for both of these historic districts was left open for thirty days – please submit statements to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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