Inside the Ruins of the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue
Rowley Amato reports for Curbed. The long deteriorated Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue on the Lower East Side has been closed since 2007, but that hasn't stopped the synagogue from waging a veritable war with itself, as the historic building flip-flopped between courting developers and seeking to strip itself of landmark status under the leadership of Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum. Last year, the synagogue finally withdrew its hardship application following an intense conversation between Rabbi Greenbaum and the leader of the preservation efforts.Originally built in 1850 as a Baptist church, the Gothic Revival building was purchased by Beth Hamedrash Hagadol—one of the oldest Eastern European congregations in the United States—in 1885 for $45,000. In 1967, the building was granted landmark status, with the Landmarks Commission finding that "Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue has a special character, special historical and aesthetic interest, and value as part of the development, heritage and cultural characteristics of New York City." While efforts to save the gorgeous, 164-year-old building are ongoing, the fine folks at Bowery Boogie and the Landmarks Conservancy takes us inside the crumbling sanctuary in this series of photographs, revealing a long, proud history that's faded, though certainly not forgotten.
Hundreds Fret About Superscrapers' Shadows As Extell Rebuts
Shannon Ayala reports for Curbed. The shadows that the so-called many "Central Park supertowers"-to-be will cast onto the city's venerated green lung have stirred up a debate about height limits for buildings. It's a heated topic, so naturally hundreds of people packed a hall at the 42nd Street library last night to hear arguments about what to make of the shadows—and what to do in light of them. Four of the towers are going up on West 57th Street, with three others set to rise nearby: 432 Park Avenue, MoMA's Tower Verre, and the Zeckendorfs' project on 60th Street that will be "like a 15 Central Park West." At the meeting, politicians suggested revising Midtown's zoning laws and making public commentary part of the mandatory review process through which each proposed skyscraper must pass. "The whole issue revolves around zoning," said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Brewer built on her case, in part, by recalling her role in a successful campaign to scale down the Time Warner Center to reduce its shadows on Central Park 26 years ago.