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A list of HDC’s upcoming events as well as our annual programs, and breaking preservation news.



HDC is always busy, view our Past Events page to see what other evens we’ve held.




Re:Neighborhood Values: NY Post, July 5, 2014

Demolition freeze may cover 80% of the city: Crains, April 14, 2014

The Historic Districts Council says the city’s historic districts are not to blame for the shortage of affordable housing: Daily News, February 26, 2014

Landlords take aim at rampant landmarking: Crains New York,July 11, 2013

Landmark advocates recall Alamo-like efforts: Chelsea Now, November 3, 2012

New York Landmark Status Misused, Says Group Preservationists say New York’s history under attack:Epoch Times, June 21, 2012

Preservationists Issue Rallying Cry, Prepare to Save Landmarks Law from Big Real Estate: New York Observer, June 14th, 2012

Defending Historic Preservation in New York City

PS 31 - The Castle

PS 31 – The Castle

Although community advocates have achieved some big successes in recent years gaining long-sought landmark designations and thwarting (or at least modifying) destructive proposals to historic buildings, historic preservation as both a strategy and as a philosophy is under attack as never before. Emboldened by years of record growth, the Real Estate Board of New York, the principal lobbyist for organized real estate, has been relentless in its campaign to undermine the Landmarks Law and all community preservation efforts. They are accusing preservation efforts of driving up housing costs, endangering affordable housing, stopping job creation and economic growth, protecting worthless buildings and penalizing home and business owners with costly fees and delays. To hear them tell it, landmark designation will transform New York into a lifeless museum city with a “look but don’t touch” mentality. HDC feels that nothing could be further from the truth. REBNY even pursued a serious lobbying effort to transform and weaken the Landmarks Law through a series of bills which would transform how the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated and regulated historic properties. Through HDC’s mobilization of the preservation community, this specific effort was defeated but the threat to preservation laws and historic buildings is still very real.

Preservation practices empower communities, celebrate our history, drive economic growth and sustain development efforts. Preservation enhances our streetscapes, nurtures tourism, encourages investment and employs local labor. It is a popular, populist movement driven by regular New Yorkers who value their homes and their city. The Historic Districts Council works with community groups throughout the five boroughs on efforts to save, preserve and enhance the special character of New York’s historic neighborhoods. We work with communities from areas as different as the Upper West Side and Bedford-Stuyvesant on the shared goal of empowering the community to have a voice in determining their own future. These two communities are ones whose efforts we honored at the Grassroots Preservation Awards and whose successes have been targeted as “over-reaching” by the real estate lobby.

HDC will continue counter arguing REBNY as long as they continue to release studies based on lies  and misconceptions. The threat that REBNY faces to New Yorker’s is very real. Through HDC’s mobilization and education we have been able to keep the preservation community strong, but we will never be as loud as REBNY. We need all the support of our neighborhood partners, history lovers, and lovers of New York.

Additional Resources:

Preservation and Job Creation



  • Articles and Media Coverage: Preservation and the Battle to Preserve It



 HDC continues to vigilantly defend New York City’s Landmarks Law and promotes efforts to strengthen protections for historic buildings. This section will be updated regularly with current events regarding this issue.

HDC@LPC Testimony for LPC Hearing on November 10, 2015

Item 1



175413- Block 5807, lot 639-

4520 Waldo Avenue – Fieldston Historic District

A neo-Colonial style house built circa 1933-38. Application is to demolish the garage, construct additions, and alter the façade.

Waldo AveThis modest house reflects its time—developed in a picturesque style the 1930s determined by the strict guidelines of the Fieldston Property Owners Association. This house remains largely intact, save for a rear dormer which exapnded the house, which was successful, as it preserved the scale and façade of the dwelling. HDC suggests pursuing this strategy again, as the current proposal is a huge intervention and destroys the careful proportions of this historic property.

LPC determination: NO ACTION


Item 2

BOROUGH OF Manhattan

162669- Block 2109, lot 97-

432 West 162nd Street – Jumel Terrace Historic District

A transitional Romanesque Revival style rowhouse designed by Henry Fouchaux and built in 1896. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and rear yard deck.

432 W 162 St aerial432 W 162 St aerial proposedThe time has come when rooftop and rear yard accretions have arrived in the unscathed historic districts of uptown Manhattan. While this proposal is not egregious, it is the first addition to a fully-intact row of 1896 townhouses, and this trend inevitably, however slow, will continue. With that in mind, HDC emphasizes the importance of precedent in reviewing this proposal. The two issues at hand are visibility and aesthetics: this outcropping will be highly visible from Morris Jumel Park and neighboring streets, and it is also dismal in its appearance. We ask for a reconsideration of where and how it is situated, and a different selection of materials.

LPC determination: Approved in part/NO ACTION


Item 5


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

177124- Block 1507, lot 4-

1143 Fifth Avenue – Carnegie Hill Historic District

A neo-Federal style apartment building designed by J. E. R. Carpenter and built in 1922-23. Application is to construct a multi-story rooftop addition, alter secondary façades and install a new sidewalk entry canopy and garden.

1143 proposed1143 existingRegarding the new top of the building, HDC finds the design harmonious but extremely large. Does everything need to be built to bulk? While this building is an anomaly in Carpenter’s portfolio, it was purpose-built as a modest upscale apartment building, which is a contributing building in the district. This is a major vertical extension to an existing historic building and HDC feels that this is an enormous ask in terms of appropriateness, especially considering how controversial one and two story rooftop additions in certain areas remain.

The original building should be celebrated, and to this end, eliminate the canopy. The existing and proposed canopies clutter the façade of the historic building and add nothing aesthetically. The window openings and configuration are differentiated from the historic stories below, which are an appropriate choice, but we feel the new fenestration could be applied in simple double-hung, one over ones as opposed to casements.

LPC determination: NO ACTION


Item 11


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

171673- Block 589, lot 48-

235 Bleecker Street – Greenwich Village Extension II Historic District

A complex of buildings built between 1822 and 1859, and later altered in the Italianiate style c. 1870. Application is to legalize the installation of a storefront in non-compliance with Certificate of No Effect 16-5887.

235 Bleecker StreetHDC finds the signage pediment to be too heavy-handed and its stark white color to be a bit alien and overwhelming to this façade. With so many historic storefronts in Greenwich Village, perhaps further study could produce a more appropriate result.


Item 12


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

166400- Block 471, lot 58-

190 Grand Street – Individual Landmark

A late-Federal style rowhouse, built in 1833 and altered c. 1930 with a ground-floor storefront and residential entry. Application is to replace and enlarge the rear dormer.

190 Grand StreetGiven this building’s Individual Landmark status, its significant age, and its distinction as one of the city’s few protected Federal houses, HDC feels that it should be treated far more sensitively. We disagree with any plans to demolish dormers on Federal houses and feel that the roof configuration needs to be preserved, no matter what.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 15


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

142666- Block 591, lot 45-

327 Bleecker Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

A four story building originally constructed as a two-story house in 1832-33, and altered in the 19th and 20th centuries. Application is to demolish the building and construct a new building.

327 Bleecker StreetHDC finds the proposed new building to be problematic, as it neither replicates the original structure, nor interprets it, but rather picks up on details of the district in a somewhat random and, in the case of the mansard roof, clumsy way. We would, of course, prefer to see this building restored, as previously approved, and wonder if the building could be braced in steel and the original material preserved. If not, the second best alternative would be to rebuild to match the original condition.

LPC determination: NO ACTION


Item 18


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

174163- Block 233, lot 17-

151 Grand Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Extension Historic District

A Queen Anne style loft building designed by F. & W. E. Bloodgood and John B. Snook & Sons, and built in 1889-90. Application is to construct a rooftop addition, install storefront infill, and a barrier-free access ramp.

151 Grand StreetHistoric inspired storefronts on old buildings just look better, and this prominent corner building will gain certain curb appeal from this renovation. Since this is a corner building, though, the shiny rooftop addition is very much in-your-face. Since this building is L-shaped, there is the advantage of adding the majority of bulk on the rear portion of the roof, and HDC suggests pursuing this, rather than cramming glass right up against the cornice along the Lafayette Street facade.

LPC determination: NO ACTION


Item 21


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

176621- Block 643, lot 43-

60-74 Gansevoort Street – Gansevoort Market Historic District

A market building built in 1940-42 and altered in 1949-50; and five neo-Grec style tenement buildings designed by George B. Pelham and built in 1880-81, and altered as a market building in 1940 by Voorhees, Walker, Foley and Smith. Application is to demolish the western building and construct a new building, and to construct rooftop additions, replace windows, install storefront infill, install lighting and signage, and perform excavation.

GansevoortThe Gansevoort Market Historic District is a small district, comprised of four east-to-west streets: West 14th, West 13th. Little West 12th, and Gansevoort. Of these small blocks, Gansevoort Street is the only remaining intact street of market buildings, of which this district is aptly named.  HDC is pleased with the work proposed for two thirds of the block, for addresses 46-58, as the restoration of the historic buildings is laudable and the new construction is quite thoughtful.

However, this street’s low scale is integral to the sense of place, and the heights proposed for Nos. 60-74 effectively destroy the character-defining element of scale in this historic district.  While the new construction is elegantly designed and historically polite, it is not reflective of the period of significance for which this district was designated. These buildings were intentionally reduced to two stories at the height of market commerce, and HDC asks that if these buildings are permitted to expand, that they expand in a manner which is different both in style and in plane from the historic buildings.

LPC determination: NO ACTION


Item heard at Public Meeting 11/15/15


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

175204- Block 838, lot 48-

404 Fifth Avenue – Individual Landmark

A neo-Classical and Chicago School of Architecture style store and loft building designed by Warren & Wetmore and built in 1914. Application is to replace storefront infill.

404 Fifth404 fifth proposedInspiring historic photographs were furnished as a part of this application, revealing the original storefront and showrooms’ configuration. This building’s bottom has been mangled with infill, and while this application proposes to change a small slice of it, we err on the side of caution. While innocuous on its face, the Committee feels that replacing infill with glass and aluminum tubing is not the direction to go, especially when there is such much archival evidence on hand.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Category: Uncategorized · Tags:

HDC@LPC Testimony for LPC Hearing on November 24, 2015

Posted by on Monday, November 23, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Item 3



173274- Block 208, lot 504-

8 Montague Terrace – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

An Anglo-Italianate style rowhouse built C. 1861-79. Application is to alter masonry openings at the rear façade; modify an historic tea porch; install balconies, a cornice, roof railings, and HVAC equipment; and construct bulkheads and a rear addition.

8 MontagueMontague Terrace overlooks New York Harbor, its elevation lending much visibility to this street. Notably, the backs of these buildings, because of their situation, also serve as front facades from Brooklyn Bridge Park and the BQE. Because of its prominence, we ask that the rooftop accretion be reduced. HDC was glad to see that the tea porch will not be lost, but asks that simplified ironwork be introduced where the new balconies will be, as to not confuse them with the original.


Item 4



172826- Block 250, lot 34-

186 Montague Street – Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District

A neo-Classical style bank building designed by Helmle, Huberty & Hudswell, and built in 1904. Application is to alter the façade and replace infill.

186 MontagueHDC has a few suggestions that could make this prominent street frontage even more handsome: lose the aluminum and reintroduce bronze doors here, to match the original entrance enframement. Also, go full-width within the opening and choose paired doors, this small symmetry will go a long way.


Item 5



175277- Block 195, lot 4-

136 Dean Street – Boerum Hill Historic District

An Italianate style rowhouse designed by Patrick Fitzgerald and built in 1869-70. Application is to raise the parapet, construct a deck and railings, and install a lot line window.

136 DeanHDC feels that this parapet does not have to be raised, and isn’t accomplishing much by gaining the extra height, either. We suggest working with staff to rectify this, and have no issue with the lot line window.


Item 6



177423- Block 2118, lot 36-

314 Cumberland Street – Fort Greene Historic District

An Italianate style rowhouse designed by Thomas Skelly and built c. 1859. Application is to construct a rooftop addition.
314 Cumberland Street

HDC feels that adding to the rear and top of this house is asking too much of the structure itself and also of this unbroken row of 1859 houses. Further, the rear enlargement looks like a bump out found in non-designated areas of the city; the two tone brick with the bulky railings particularly jarring. HDC suggests lessening the overall bulk, and determining a more sensitive design for the rear.


Item 8



173769- Block 12, lot 17-

906 Prospect Place – Crown Heights North II Historic District

An altered garage designed by James O. Carpenter and built c. 1897. Application is to demolish the existing building and construct a new building.

906 Prospect PlaceOverall, the new construction is sensitive to the Crown Heights North neighborhood. Its mass is broken up to recall the scale of neighboring rowhouses, and the punched openings and presence of a cornice are nice touches. That said, these nice details are undermined by the hulking purpose-built rooftop addition and accompaning bulkheads sitting atop the otherwise thoughtful composition, as the elevator bulkhead alone is 25’ tall. As a final touch, HDC suggests lengthening the windows in the rusticated base, which would make this building appear all the more stately and be referential to the window dimensions above and on the street.


Item 9


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

177946- Block 210, lot 18-

304 Canal Street, aka 57 Lispenard Street – TriBeCa East Historic District

An Italianate store and loft building designed by John Snook in 1860. Application is to install storefront infill, replace windows, construct bulkheads, and install rooftop mechanical equipment and railings.

304 CanalAnother long-time business, Pearl Paint, closed in Tribeca, signaling the shift of an era and culture. As this building enters its new use and life, we ask that a quality restoration be carried out on its ground floor. This includes gifting it with wooden windows, like the ones that will be used on the upper stories, and also restoring the capitals of the columns, which were lost long ago.


Item 10


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

177954- Block 230, lot 13-

10 Greene Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

A store and warehouse designed by John B. Snook and built in 1869. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and install storefront infill.

10 GreeneThe basis of the argument to allow this rooftop addition is that 341 Canal will rise, rendering this design invisible from the street. That said, the current LPC-approved Gene Kaufmann design has yet to appear, and this project in totality has lasted nearly 14 years. HDC asks that the project be evaluated in terms of visibility and appropriateness, just in case the long-awaited project across the street does not rise and act as a screen. Finally, the Committee was pleased with the ground floor restoration of this building.


Item 16


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

176971- Block 545, lot 21-

734 Broadway – NoHo Historic District

A neo-Grec style store building designed by D&J Jardine and built in 1872-73. Application is to replace storefront and entrance infill and cladding.

734 BwayThis is another classic case of providing inspiring historic photographs, and then not using them whatsoever. The current banal corporate storefront will go, but what replaces it is not much better. This building is on Broadway, steps from Soho, the most expensive retail location on the planet. HDC suggests exposing a column or two, and using the historic photos to really make this building sing again.


Item 18


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

177951- Block 999, lot 63-

1562-1564 Broadway – Interior Landmark

A Beaux-Arts style theater interior with Baroque style detailing designed by Kirchhoff & Rose and built in 1912-13. Application is to relocate and alter the theater interior.

Palace beforePalace proposedAs the designation report makes clear: “If one theater in New York’s Broadway theater district were to be named the most famous, the privilege would fall virtually uncontested to the Palace.”

In approaching this application, HDC asks, just because you can do this, should you? Yes, landmarks have been moved before, but not jacked up to accommodate ground floor retail. This proposal proudly communicates that this theatre is in the way. How is a theatre in the Theatre District problematic? Don’t landmarked properties have precedent over private development’s latest desires? This is a blatant land grab, and an affront to this 100 year old landmark, made timeless by Edward Hopper’s “New York Movie.” It is an absolute treasure.

Moving this space will destroy the procession of leaving the lights and bustle of 42nd Street and entering a quieter nook, funneled into the theatre. There is something lost when one has to take an elevator into a performance space instead of the intended circulation, if you haven’t tried it, visit the American Airlines Theater which was takes a roundabout path to the historic Selwyn Theater. Further, this proposal will divorce this theater from a 7th Avenue entrance in the heart of the Broadway District, and make attendees enter on a side street. What will the public get in return? Perhaps a Red Lobster with a gift shop. Retail does not need ground floor to survive. Many stores, notably in Union Square, have subgrade shops. Arguably, Times Square is one area of the city where the most signage is permitted. With that in mind, signage could easily direct people underground.

This space is adorned in plaster, and it remains intact today because it hasn’t been moved. It is not appropriate to move or obstruct access to an interior landmark to make way for private development, a request that seems to be on the rise as we saw last year with the clocktower at 346 Broadway. Approval of this application will be a clear communication of conscience, and indicative that our culture and art is merely secondary to a Times Square corporate chain store.


Item 21


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

175206- Block 1249, lot 143-

320 West 88th Street – Riverside – West End Historic District

An Elizabethan Renaissance Revival style rowhouse built c. 1889-90. Application is to construct rear yard and rooftop additions.

320 W 88Surprisingly for this neighborhood, where it seems everything, including individual landmarks are being blown out in square footage; this block remains immaculately intact. The block plan reveals 19th century building footprints, collectively forming a verdant interior block oasis, which was likely a determining factor in the choice of this property. HDC would like to see this block preserved by way of reducing the bulk proposed for this house, and a design more sensitive to the neighbors and the historic district.


Item 23


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

161608- Block 1118, lot 36-

55 Central Park West – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District

An Art Deco-style apartment building designed by Schwartz & Gross and built in 1930. Application is to reconstruct a penthouse modified in non-compliance with Certificate of Appropriateness 09-8566, and replace windows.

55 CPWHDC found the design for the penthouse innocuous, and while it would have been a neat idea to replicate its form from the historic design, this is nonetheless a classy composition. One suggestion that could sharpen it would be to construct it in steel instead of aluminum, thinning the profiles and therefore the sightlines.

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

Pictures from the Pride of Lions – Landmarks Lions 2015 Event

Posted by on Thursday, November 19, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

response card-2015 -cropped-flip side

Category: Featured, landmark lion, Newsfeed, Program & Events · Tags:

HDC Designation Testimony for Backlog95 Hearing – November 12, 2015

Posted by on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission scheduled four “special hearings” this fall to consider 95 proposed landmarks that have been on the agency’s calendar for five years or more.  Back in November 2014, the LPC attempted to “de-calendar” all of these items, but since agreed to let the public weigh in.  Below is HDC’s testimony for the fourth and final hearing on November 12, the second of two hearings for all items in Manhattan.


Item I-A

150 East 38th Street House, Manhattan

LP – 0580

Landmark Manhattan Block: 893 Lot: 58

150 E. 38th

The Russell A. Pettengill residence and office at 150 East 38th Street is one half of a designation that has languished for 50 years since its other half at 152 East 38th Street was designated in May of 1967. Because these two 19th century buildings were redesigned as a unified development for a single client in 1934 in the Regency Revival style, they share a common entrance, rear gardens, and complementary detailing. In fact, parts of the designated 152 East 38th Street structure sit on the tax lot of the undesignated 150 East 38th Street and thus are not protected.

Both structures, originally Italianate in design, underwent extensive alterations in 1934 by the noted architect Robertson Ward, who was well versed in the modernizing and updating of old houses in a manner that recalled various early American architectural styles. The majority of his early work at this time involved 19th century houses in New England as part of a larger movement in America to repurpose historic homes. Later he would go on to fame designing resort buildings in the Caribbean. For 150-152 East 38th Street, Ward added an unusual iron fence with decorative anchors and a classically inspired loggia with delicate columns and wall details, both of which span across the front façades of the two structures. The entire design was painted light gray with a white first floor. Acroterions were added along the roofline pediment and first floor cornice of 150, along with fluted pilasters that regularly divide the lower façade. The primary entrance to 150 East 38th Street is a delicately detailed Regency Revival doorway with an elaborate leaded transom located on the garden wall of 152 East 38th street (it is unclear if these details are protected by the current designation). 150 also received a beautifully detailed two-story Regency style porch on its rear garden façade as well as the projection of 152’s quarter round sitting room (which remains undesignated) on its tax lot. The project was published in the September 1937 issue of House & Garden with a lovely illustration of the unified back garden and the rear façade of 150 with its Regency Porch and the bay projection of its sister structure.

The Regency Revival style in American architecture was popular from the early 1920’s through the late 1940’s and was primarily used in residential design. It conspicuously referenced late Georgian buildings built in Britain during the period in the early 19th century when George IV was Prince Regent. Within a more austere stripped down façade often painted white or a light color an architect would employ delicate ornament like cartouches, medallions, scrolls, columns, pediments, canopies and acroterions. In his groundbreaking study “The Row House Reborn”, Andrew Dolkart notes that Turtle Bay (circa 1921, Dean and Bottomley), along with Amar Embury’s own house at 230 East 62nd street (1927) and 132 East 92nd street (William Bottomley, 1937-38) are all representative of the Regency Revival in New York city architecture.

Russell A. Pettengill sold the entire complex to the venerable publisher Cass Canfield who used both buildings. Cass Canfield was president of Harper & Row and worked with authors and public figures such as Henry Steele Commager, E.B. White, Thornton Wilder, John F. Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson and James Thurber.

The young Landmarks Commission felt strongly enough to landmark one half of this Regency Revival style complex as one of its earliest designations, yet it appears to have tabled action on 150 East 38th Street because of owner opposition. Now almost fifty years later, the time has finally come to complete the job and unite the entire composition by awarding the second half of this design the landmark status that it so rightly deserves.


Item I-B


LP – 2111

Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 1338, Lot 7503

Kaufman Rooms

New York City’s significant mid-20th century architecture and design is notably lacking in recognition, which is why the Historic Districts Council is advocating for the landmark designation of the Edgar J. Kaufmann Conference Center designed by renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto (1898-1976).

Aalto was the most important Finnish architect of the 20th century and a central figure in International Modernism, famous for his marriage of the naturalism of Finnish Romanticism with modernist ideals. The Conference Center is the only example of this master’s work in New York City and one of only four Aalto structures remaining in the United States.

The space is an artistic entirety; everything in it was designed and produced by Aalto to create a harmonious effect. Serene and light-filled, the curved forms of ash and birch create an abstract forest-like sculpture of sinuous bent wood. Combined with blue porcelain tiles and modern yet humanistic lighting, the Conference Center is without a doubt an architectural gem — one the City of New York should be proud to call its own.

Located within the Institute for International Education (IIE) at 809 United Nations Plaza, the intact rooms are some of the most significant post-World War II spaces in New York, of importance and influence on modern design. The rooms were commissioned in 1961 by Edgar J. Kaufmann Jr., a scholar and patron of modern architecture and design, whose family commissioned “Fallingwater” from Frank Lloyd Wright. Aalto’s resulting design is typical of the architect’s best work.

Located on the 12th floor of the IIE, the Conference Center is accessible to the public when used as a space for functions and events. From weddings and cocktail receptions to lectures and alumni events, guests are able to enjoy the Center year-round. The IIE invites visitors to the space quite frequently for Fulbright scholarship interviews, and the Finnish Embassy hosts its annual holiday gala there in honor of Aalto, who remains a source of great national pride for the Finns.

The Historic Districts Council and other preservation organizations have led an ongoing campaign to preserve this interior space; yet despite its historical and architectural significance, the Kaufmann Conference Center remains unprotected.

This proposed interior landmark was heard before the LPC nearly fourteen years ago on November 20, 2001. The Center still lies in preservation limbo, eagerly awaiting official designation. Until then, this space remains vulnerable, unprotected and largely unknown to many New Yorkers.


Item I-C

PRESIDENT CHESTER A. ARTHUR HOUSE, 123 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan

LP – 578

Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 884, Lot 24

Chester Arthur

123 Lexington Avenue is the former residence of President Chester A. Arthur and his wife, Ellen. Arthur served as quartermaster general in the New York Militia during the Civil War and was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant to the lucrative and politically powerful post of Collector of the Port of New York. Arthur served a short term as Vice President of the United States, and when President Garfield was assassinated, Arthur became president, taking the oath of office in this house in 1881. Despite his own past links to patronage, as president Arthur surprised reformers by signing and strongly enforcing the Civil Service Act, which established that federal civil servants be appointed on the basis of merit rather than patronage and forbade the firing of federal employees for political reasons. He presided over the rebirth of the United States Navy, reduced excise taxes, and took other important actions. Journalist and historian Alexander McClure wrote, “No man ever entered the presidency so profoundly and widely distrusted as Chester Alan Arthur, and no one ever retired…more generally respected, alike by political friend and foe.” In poor health, Arthur returned to New York after his term, and lived at 123 Lexington until he died there in 1886. The entire block of once-elegant Italianate style brownstone townhomes remains along this stretch of Lexington. All of the buildings have converted storefronts, speaking to the evolution of Lexington Avenue from upper class residential to a commercial corridor. While many of the lower floors have been altered, the upper floors each have three segmental headed double hung windows with molded stone sills and cap-molded lintels. A metal cornice on brackets, typical of so many brownstone fronts, crowns each building at the roof level. 123 Lexington was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965, and, with its notable history, deserves New York City landmark status.


Item I-D


LP – 1136 & LP – 2281

Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 1871, Lot 24 and 29

St. Michaels

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church was designed by architect Robert W. Gibson and dedicated in 1891. The congregation has been worshiping on this site since 1807, outgrowing its previous two church structures before construction began for the present structure. Gibson was known in his time for his use of architectural forms from a variety of traditions, and this complex is a fine example of his work. In fact, and quite interestingly, the St. Michael’s Church complex and the Music Hall at Sailors’ Snug Harbor in Staten Island, both part of the LPC’s Backlog95 initiative, are the only New York City works by Gibson that are not protected by the Landmarks Law.

The church, parish house and rectory were all designed by Gibson over roughly 25 years. The church was constructed of rock-faced Indiana limestone in the Northern Italian Renaissance or Romanesque-Byzantine style. Its grandest feature is its square clock and bell tower at the corner of Amsterdam Avenue, which is visible throughout the surrounding neighborhood and is capped by two levels of open arcades and a pyramidal roof. The church also features Spanish tile roofs and magnificent stained glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany. While not part of this proposed designation, the interior features a great amount of original decorative elements by Tiffany, in addition to the windows.

Set back from West 99th Street is the Parish House, completed in 1896-97 by Gibson, along with architect Charles Merry. Its asymmetrical massing includes a large gable and two smaller gabled dormers, and its façade features arched openings and window lintels, as well as the same rough cut Indiana limestone. The final piece of the complex was the Rectory, completed in 1912-13 just west of the Parish House, but not set back from the street. It was also designed by Gibson in the same style, but with rectangular window openings and strong cornice lines that emphasize its horizontality. The complex is remarkably intact and striking in its materials and monumental scale. HDC finds it to be entirely worthy of landmark status to ensure that it remains not only a spiritual anchor on the Upper West Side, but an architectural one, as well.


Item I-E

412 EAST 85TH STREET HOUSE, Manhattan

LP – 592

Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 1564, Lot 7503

412 E. 85th

The Italianate style 412 East 85th Street is the only non-designated wood-frame house on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It stands as a reminder of Yorkville’s rural past, when the neighborhood was transitioning from farmland and country estates to a denser, middle-class, residential character. The building, rare for its age and type, stands three stories tall, three bays wide, and retains its front porch with delicate supporting columns. It is set back slightly from the street, breaking the street wall formed by its neighbors. While the house’s Italianate details, including clapboard siding, wood shutters and cornice, and segmental arched double-hung windows, appear to date to circa 1860, the possibility that it was built much earlier as an ancillary farm structure and then moved to this location and renovated in the Italianate style cannot be ruled out, as this was a common practice in New York City around this time. If it was, in fact, constructed circa 1860, it also stands as one of the last frame buildings to be constructed before the city fire code outlawed such construction south of 86th Street.

The building has sustained some changes over the years, including conversion to apartments with a commercial ground floor; the removal of some of its details, including part of the porch and its shutters; and the recladding of the façade. However, it has been cared for time and time again. Its first restoration occurred in the 1950s, and its owner in 1967 advocated for landmark designation. This was not to be, however, and the building fell into disrepair over the subsequent decades until 1996, when the current owners undertook a major restoration to simulate the building’s original appearance. Aside from the building’s historic and architectural merit, it is clear that it has stood out as a special building in the neighborhood for a long time, and commands a high level of responsible stewardship. HDC strongly supports the designation of 412 East 85th Street to celebrate and protect this rare piece of Yorkville’s history for generations to come.


Item II-A


Landmark Site: Manhattan Blocks: 1361 Amsterdam Avenue: LP-2468, Block 1967, Lot 40;

461-467 West 126th Street: LP-2499, Block 1967, Lot 45; 423-427 West 127th Street: LP-2500, Block 1967, Lot 60; 439-449 West 127th Street: LP-2501, Block 1967, Lot 45; 454-458 West 128th Street: LP-2502, Block 1967, Lot 85; 460-470 West 128th Street: LP-2503, Block 1967, Lot 89


The Yuengling Brewing site in Harlem is the last brewing complex surviving in Manhattan. Beer brewing, an industry which was as big as finance and real estate in New York, has had very little architecture survive into the present day. Some remnants are found in Bushwick, Brooklyn, and even a building in East New York. Gone are the breweries of Yorkville and Brooklyn, save for a building or two, and nowhere does an industrial complex remain except for here, between 126th and 128th Streets, in a rare patch of uptown Manhattan.

An industrial area just north of 125th Street seems odd, far from the water and wedged between NYCHA development to the south and the new-law tenements surrounding the rest of it. This early complex predates residential development in this section of Manhattan, and was chosen because of its relative isolation at the time. As early as 1860 there was a brewery operating on this site, and the earliest buildings in the complex date to 1876, with significant expansion and alterations dating to 1903. The entire complex closed in 1920 with the advent of Prohibition, but the buildings, until this day, have been excellent containers for adaptive reuse.

It would be a crime if this complex was lost—nowhere else does a group of buildings of the brewing industry survive intact as a small district. Other former industrial areas of New York have proven to be destination worthy—often even too popular a destination. Real estate pressure is eating Harlem alive, especially along 125th Street and along the avenues, rendering century-old streetscapes unrecognizable. This enclave has a sense of place unlike any other, uptown or downtown. This is the last reminder of a great industry, and it shouldn’t be thrown away to the wrecking ball.


Item II-B

ST. JOSEPH’S CHURCH, 401-403 West 125th Street, Manhattan

LP – 303

Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 1966, Lot 67

St. Josephs

Like many Harlem churches, St. Joseph’s Church has evolved over 150 years to serve different populations and waves of immigrants. Pre-dating the Civil War and originally built for German Catholics, this simple sanctuary still has an active local population. This Harlem landmark is an oasis on 125th Street, adorned in red brick with an equally handsome parish house, on a large lot of greenery. Across and down the street, 10- and 20-story buildings loom, as Harlem’s 125th Street corridor continues to grow vertically. Here, though, there is still a little church which matches the red brick tenement buildings that surround it, creating a distinct enclave and discernible neighborhood, while development creeps north. This is one of the oldest buildings in Harlem, and it is the oldest church in Manhattan north of 44th Street. It is impressive that it is still with us today, and we urge you to preserve this little corner of old Harlem.


Item II-C


LP – 1848

Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 1920, Lot 7


As the YMCA was a racially segregated institution in the early 1900s, African Americans had to utilize separate facilities from whites. The LPC designation report for the WPA Harlem YMCA across the street describes the impetus for the item before us today:

As Harlem emerged as the heart of the African American community in Manhattan in the early twentieth century, most of the major African-American institutions relocated to Harlem. One, the Colored Branch of the Young Women’s Christian Association (founded in 1905), moved from a location on 53rd Street to West 132nd Street in 1913…Henry C. Parker, of the noted African American real estate firm of Nail & Parker, was chairman of the committee to select a property in Harlem for the Colored Men’s Branch of the YMCA. A lot at 181 West 135th Street was purchased in 1916, and a six story YMCA building, the West 135th Street Branch, was constructed in 1918-19 to the neo-Renaissance style design of John F. Jackson….By the mid-1920s, the vicinity of West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue became the hub of African-American social and intellectual life in Harlem. Among the institutions that were located near the YMCA were the New York Public Library (and Schomburg Collection), 103 West 135th Street; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People offices, 224 West 135th Street; the New York Urban League, 202 West 136th Street; N. Y. Amsterdam News offices, 2271 Seventh Avenue; and St. Philip’s P.E. Church, 210-216 West 134th Street.

135th Street remains a vital corridor today, adding Harlem Hospital, New York City 32nd Police Precinct, Thurgood Marshall Academy, Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem, and Bread and Roses Integrated Arts High School to the list of institutions on this section of the street. Unlike 125th Street, which has always been a commercial thoroughfare, 135th Street is comprised of institutions spaced between residential tenement and rowhouse buildings, making this area of Harlem a living, working neighborhood. This patch of block already boasts the aforementioned designated Harlem YMCA building, across the street from its small predecessor. Together, these buildings possess a cohesion of community, which will be lost if the first building goes unprotected. This beautiful building was purpose built for Harlem’s emerging African American population in the early twentieth century, and this history should be preserved. Another Harlem cultural institution, the Renaissance Casino, was leveled for condos earlier this year. The storied building was located just two blocks north, on 137th Street. The YMCA, whose mission it is to serve its community, would be good to invest in its past to protect its people’s legacy and enrich generations of the future.


Item II-D

ST. PAUL’S CHURCH AND SCHOOL, 121 East 117th Street, Manhattan

LP – 291

Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 1645, Lot 7

St. Pauls Church

The St. Paul’s complex on East 117th Street and East 118th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues was designed by noted architects Neville & Bagge in the Romanesque Revival style. The church, executed in smooth limestone and constructed in 1907-08 of smooth limestone is accessed by steps leading from the sidewalk to five arched doorways, all supported by slender columns. The central and outermost doorways are each housed within projecting gabled temples topped with religious statuary. The building abounds in arched window openings and is flanked by towers rising above its central gabled front. The square bell towers are capped with pyramidal copper spires and copper crucifixes.

Attached to the rear of the church, facing East 118th Street, is the associated school building, constructed before the church, in 1904-06. The basement of the school was used as a chapel until the church was completed a few years later. The symmetrical, red brick school building features round arched doorways and round arched windows at the first and fourth floors, and square-headed windows on the second and third floors. Its flat roofline is flanked by gabled parapets on the far ends of the building, and the roof features a corbelled brick cornice with pointed arches.

These buildings form an impressive complex on this block in East Harlem, a neighborhood sorely lacking landmark buildings. HDC selected East Harlem as one of its 2015 Six to Celebrate neighborhoods in order to promote and celebrate its many architectural gems, as well as its overall historic and cultural contributions to the city. We are glad to enthusiastically support the designation of these well-loved buildings.


Item II-E

ST. PAUL’S RECTORY, 113 East 117th Street, Manhattan

LP – 290

Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 1645, Lot 6

St. Pauls Rectory

Adjacent to the church and separated by an alley is the rectory building, also designed by Neville & Bagge in the Romanesque Revival style and constructed at the same time as the church, 1907-08. The building, faced in the same smooth limestone as the church, has three window bays, and the openings are of the same configuration as the earlier school building, with a round arched doorway and round arched windows at the first and fourth floors, and square-headed windows on the second and third floors. The bays on the second and third floor are separated and flanked by handsome Corinthian pilasters, and the building is capped by a gable roof with a circular pendant inset with a quatrefoil symbol. The stately building relates well to the church and forms an impressive complex on this block in East Harlem, a neighborhood sorely lacking landmark buildings. HDC selected East Harlem as one of its 2015 Six to Celebrate neighborhoods in order to promote and celebrate its many architectural gems, as well as its overall historic and cultural contributions to the city. We are glad to enthusiastically support the designation of these well-loved buildings.


Item II-F

LOEW’S 175TH STREET THEATER, 4140 Broadway, Manhattan

LP – 656

Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 2145, Lot 1

Loews Theater

The Loew’s 175th Street Theater was built as one of the Loew’s Wonder Theatres, five extravagant flagship movie palaces constructed between 1929 and 1930 in the vicinity of New York City. The other theaters in this family, which are also still standing, though all converted to other uses, include the Loew’s Jersey Theater in Jersey City, New Jersey; the Loew’s Kings Theater in Brooklyn; the Loew’s Paradise Theater in The Bronx; and the Loew’s Valencia in Queens. The 175th Street Theater, one of three of the five “Wonder Theaters” to be designed by Thomas W. Lamb, is a veritable palace. Its exterior is a feast for the eyes, a flamboyant display built during a time of extreme austerity, undoubtedly meant to uplift Depression-era audiences.

When it opened in 1930, the massive, freestanding theater had seats for roughly 3,600 people. Its architectural style is difficult to pinpoint due to its exuberant and extravagant terra-cotta ornament. It was amusingly described by The New York Times’ David W. Dunlap as “Byzantine-Romanesque-Indo-Hindu-Sino-Moorish-Persian-Eclectic-Rococo-Deco” in his book “On Broadway: A Journey Uptown Over Time.” It features iconography and symbols from an array of cultures and invites the imagination to run free. The same treatment is found on the interior, itself another masterpiece.

After Loew’s closed in 1969, the theater was purchased by the United Christian Evangelistic Association for use as a worship space. The church restored the building and renamed it the Palace Cathedral. In 2007, it also began functioning as a performance space and cultural center: the United Palace, as it is widely known today. Considering the building’s strong architectural presence and linkage to a network of Depression-era palaces of entertainment throughout the city, it should be granted the protection it so rightfully deserves in order to ensure that it may continue to arouse and inspire the imaginations of present and future New Yorkers.


Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

Continuing Education – Ornamental Light Fixtures

Posted by on Monday, November 9, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Thursday, November 5,2015

1:30 to 3:30 pm

310 Scholes St, Brooklyn, NY 11206

The Historic Districts Council will be touring Aurora Lampworks, a restoration company for historic lighting fixtures, ornamental metal work and ornamental glass work. Aurora was founded by Dawn Ladd, and has been in business serving the architectural, design, and restoration communities for 25 years. They often work with Architects, Lighting Designers and Interior Designers on custom projects.

At this tour attendees will have exclusive access to their warehouse and design center.  Dawn Ladd will provide a history of functional architectural elements and explain why it is necessary to maintain this beautiful pieces of history. Dawn and her staff will explain how their lamps go from concept drawings to pattern fabrication to reality. They will demonstrate glass and metal cutting and welding.  Anyone who is a decorative arts lover, this class is for you!  Two AIA HSW/LU credits are available to AIA members.


AIA Friends of HDC $50

General Admission $75

Click here to purchase tickets




Category: Architect Panel, Program & Events · Tags:

HDC Designation Testimony for Backlog95 Hearing – November 5, 2015

Posted by on Wednesday, November 4, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has scheduled four “special hearings” this fall to consider 95 proposed landmarks that have been on the agency’s calendar for five years or more.  Back in November 2014, the LPC attempted to “de-calendar” all of these items, but since agreed to let the public weigh in.  Below is HDC’s testimony for the third hearing on November 5, which is the first of two hearings for all items in Manhattan. The second hearing will be on November 12.


Item I-C


LP –2359

Landmark Manhattan Block: 77 Lot: 24 (in part)


The Excelsior Power Company Building was designed by William Milne Grinnell and completed in 1888. Grinnell was trained as an architect at Yale University, but never practiced architecture professionally. This creation in brick and terra cotta, however, is proof of his architectural expertise. The seven-story building is a monumental Romanesque Revival industrial building, complete with rough-cut ashlar and rounded, springing arches. Queen Anne terra cotta details adorn the building, while the Art Nouveau letters that read “Excelsior Power Co. Bldg 1888 A.D.” add the final touch.

This is the oldest power generating station in New York City. Eleven power plants, whose energy helped grow New York into the city that it is, have been demolished throughout the five boroughs. The Excelsior Power Company Building, which is an architectural anomaly in the Financial District, has been successfully adaptively reused as residences despite its original industrial use. This building remains intact and has overcome functional obsolescence, and is a gift to Gold Street.


Item 1-D


LP – 2344

Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 489, Lot 2

57 Sullivan-clipped

57 Sullivan Street was built in 1816-17, making it one of the oldest buildings in Manhattan. Standing just north of Broome Street, it is a three-bay, wood-framed rowhouse which, in the words of the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s statement of significance, “was designed in the Federal style, characterized by a brick-clad front façade laid in Flemish bond, incised paneled brownstone lintels, an incised entry arch with a keystone and impost blocks, and a stoop.” The fact that it is wood-framed makes it a rare example of the Federal period.

Originally two stories, by 1858 the building was raised to three, terminating in a wooden cornice. Its present owners acquired the house in 1995, and embarked on a restoration, including a new front door, windows, ironwork and shutters. It is possible that they were influenced in their choices by 203 Prince Street, an 1834 Federal house a couple of blocks away, designated an individual landmark in 1974.

57 Sullivan was calendared for designation in 1970. It was also one of 13 Federal houses proposed for designation in 2002 by preservation organizations, but was not heard until 2009. It enjoyed strong support from local officials, neighbors and preservation groups. Any alterations that might have prevented its designation at that time were certainly consistent with those on other extant buildings of the time, as 203 Prince Street shows. While the building’s owners have been careful stewards of the property, development pressure and a great deal of construction in the area threaten the structure if left undesignated. We ask the Commission to designate 57 Sullivan Street as an Individual Landmark, thus preserving this house in perpetuity.


Item I-E

JAMES MCCREERY & COMPANY, 801-807 Broadway, Manhattan

LP – 0206

Landmark Manhattan Block: 563 Lot: 37


This 1868 cast-iron building on the corner of East 11th Street and Broadway is a relic of the original Ladies’ Mile, which stretched from East 8th Street north to East 24th Street along Broadway. This corridor featured large shops, such as the James McCreery & Company store, the original tenant of this massive structure. After a number of tenants, the building fell to its nadir in 1971 when a fire destroyed its mansard roof and much of its interior.

However, it is always darkest before the dawn. Shortly after the fire, in 1973, the building received new life and was one of the earliest upscale cast-iron residential conversions. The building’s developer planned to build a new skyscraper on the lot, but after community input, it was decided that the building would be saved. Revolutionary at the time, the BSA granted a variance that eliminated the need for a 30-foot rear yard for a residential building based on the 16-foot window openings, which were deemed acceptable for adequate air and light. The BSA also allowed the construction of an upper story, designed by architect Stephen B. Jacobs, to add additional rentable square footage. The building as a residence continues to be a success, as tenants enjoy their spaces from behind a magnificent cast-iron Corinthian colonnade.

801 Broadway was beloved enough in the early 1970s to be saved, and its conversion was instrumental in the way real estate evolved to embrace adaptive reuse in New York City. The addition, while not flattering, is of its time and does not detract from the building. We urge the LPC to designate this unofficial landmark into a legitimate one, so that a bit of old New York—even 1970s New York—remains in the Village.


Item 1-F

138 SECOND AVENUE, Manhattan

LP – 2357

Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 450, Lot 5

138 Second Avenue-LPC

138 Second Avenue is a Federal-style rowhouse, built in 1832 by Thomas E. Davis, a prolific developer of grand, late-Federal style houses in the East Village, few of which survive today.  Of those that do survive, Nos. 4 and 20 St. Mark’s Place have both been designated Individual Landmarks. 138 Second Avenue bears much in common with these houses, including the handsome and elaborate Gibbs door surround, the Flemish bond brickwork, and the impressive scale of the house.

The house was, according to a 1916 New York Times article, the home of the League of Foreign-Born Citizens, a “non-racial, non-sectarian organization, founded in 1913, for the purpose of interesting the immigrant in civic affairs and inspiring those who had not been naturalized to take steps towards making themselves American citizens…owing to the gift of $1,500 from Mrs. Vincent Astor…the League…is enabled to move into a new clubhouse [at 138 Second Avenue]…”

The building was proposed for designation by the LPC in 2009, and has since been beautifully restored. 138 Second Avenue is a rare, intact link to the days when this stretch of Second Avenue was one of the premiere residential addresses in New York. Its alteration with added stories when converted to multi-family use, and small commercial addition in front, reflects the Lower East Side’s transformation by immigrants, and the emergence of Second Avenue in the early 20th century as the “Yiddish Rialto,” one of New York’s most vibrant entertainment centers. At the time of the hearing in 2009, the proposed designation of 138 Second Avenue enjoyed strong support from both local and city-wide preservation organizations.

Such well-preserved Federal buildings are rare and precious. We urge the Commission to prioritize it for designation.


Item 1-G

2 OLIVER STREET, Manhattan

LP – 0560

Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 279, Lot 68

2 Oliver-LPC

2 Oliver Street is a Federal Revival style single-family dwelling, built on a side-hall-plan in 1821, with a third story added around 1850. Its simple design and features reflect characteristics representative of many such Federal-era residences, and the third story addition is done in a manner quite typical for such early relics of New York’s first wave of urban development.  It is a contributing property in the Two Bridges National Register Historic District.

The building is additionally significant for having served as the home of James O’Donnell, one of the first trained architects in America. O’Donnell worked on the nearby Fulton Street Market while living at 2 Oliver Street, and later moved to Montreal to design the Basilica of Notre Dame. 2 Oliver Street had a public hearing in 1966, but was never designated. The effort to designate the structure was revived by local advocates and preservation organizations in 2002, and enjoyed strong support from local elected officials. We urge the Commission to designate this rare and well-preserved Federal dwelling.


Item I-H


LP – 2374

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1106 Lot: 1

IRT Powerhouse

Stanford White was able to design in 1904 what today seems like a minor miracle – a utilitarian structure that was highly elegant and ornate. It was all in a day’s work, though, for White and other City Beautiful proponents who believed that public improvements should be built to create a city that was both functional and beautiful. We have them to thank for many of our city’s finest landmarks, including libraries, schools, bathhouses and parks.

With one glance at the Powerhouse, it is easy to see it is already a landmark, and deserves official recognition to ensure its survival. This monumental structure is a remarkable example of Beaux-Arts design applied to a utilitarian building; its architectural grandeur meant to convince the public to embrace the subway, a major new mode of transportation back in 1904. Designed as a showpiece, it now stands as a monument to progress and rapid transit. In addition to its architectural significance, the building holds an important place in industrial history. When it opened 111 years ago, it was the largest powerhouse in the world and provided the energy needed to run the first subway line along Manhattan’s west side, which in turn created and enabled the modern city of New York.

Despite the unfortunate loss of its original smokestacks, the IRT Powerhouse remains a commanding presence. With major development projects looming on all sides, this structure is a dynamic anchor for an ever-changing west side. With wide-spread support, the building has been proposed and heard for designation three times before. While this support network has not waivered, the building’s uncertain future grows more and more threatening. HDC urges you to designate this masterpiece before it is too late.


Item I-I

MISSION OF THE IMMACULATE VIRGIN, 448 West 56th Street, Manhattan

LP – 2360

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1065 Lot: 1

Mission of the Immaculate Virgin

Tucked away on West 56th Street is a three-story, brick and limestone structure completed in 1903 as the midtown branch of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin. The Catholic charity provided shelter, food, clothing and education for underprivileged boys. Designed by the firm of Schickel & Ditmars, which specialized in ecclesiastical and institutional architecture, this Beaux-Arts style building features many intact original features, including a rusticated limestone base, elaborate window surrounds and a dentilled, pressed metal cornice. The handsome building is an intimate anomaly within a streetscape of tenement buildings and warehouses, with the Hearst Tower and midtown skyscrapers within close proximity and view.


Item II-A

BERGDORF GOODMAN, 754 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan

LP – 0735

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1273 Lot: 33


Bergdorf Goodman, completed in 1927 after designs by Buchman & Kahn (exterior) and Shreve & Lamb (interior) and Robert W. Allen (entrance hall) is one of the rare buildings about which one can truly say that it is unique. It is significant for its inventive, refined design, which creates the illusion of a historical old world streetscape by breaking down the building mass into several smaller units. These narrow building elements – roughly 25 feet wide – and the distinctive slate roof, a defining feature of the building, recall the scale, texture and skyline of older townscapes.

The design is organized in a series of bays with a tight rhythm of windows in a vertical proportion. The detailing is extremely refined, using delicate, shallow changes of planes to create lines, shadows and decorative figures in the white South Dover marble material of the façade. The strong classical organization and urban character of the building has been able to assimilate an alteration by Allan Greenberg, which, no doubt, the Commission would approve today if the building had been landmarked.

Not only is the building significant for the high quality of its design by an important modern architect, it is also significant for its intended role in the urban context, a role that it still fulfills today. An article in the magazine Through the Ages (March 1931) noted:

“The exterior in the Louis XVI style, is of white marble, including the cornices, thus bringing it into harmony with the others facing the Plaza – – and with the Squibb building at the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-eighth Street. This is one of the cases where consideration was given to the neighboring architecture, a procedure that is unfortunately too infrequently carried out.”

It is a great fortune for New York that this urban environment can still be experienced today: the Squibb building at 745 Fifth Avenue, also designed by Ely Jacques Kahn, continues to be a beautiful presence in this urban landscape, as do the Pierre Hotel, the Sherry Netherland hotel and the Plaza Hotel, three New York City Landmarks.

We urge the Commission to recognize the architectural and urban significance of the Bergdorf Goodman building by designating it a New York City Landmark.


Item II-B

EMPIRE THEATER (Interior & Exterior), 236-242 West 42nd Street, Manhattan

LP – 1331

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1013 Lot: 50


Item II-D

LIBERTY THEATER (Interior & Exterior), 234 West 42nd Street, Manhattan

LP – 1344

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1013 Lot: 12


Item II-E

LYRIC THEATER (Exterior & Interior), 213 West 42nd Street, Manhattan

LP – 1353

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1014 Lot: 39


Item II-F

NEW APOLLO THEATER (Interior), 215-223 West 42nd Street, Manhattan

LP – 1363

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1014 Lot: 20

New Apollo-LPC

Item II-H

SELWYN THEATER (Exterior & Interior), 229-231 West 42nd Street, Manhattan

LP – 1377

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1014 Lot: 17


Item II-J

TIMES SQUARE THEATER (Exterior & Interior), 215-223 West 42nd Street, Manhattan

LP – 1382

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1014 Lot: 20

Times Sq Theater-LPC

Item II-L

VICTORY THEATER (Exterior & Interior), 207 West 42nd Street, Manhattan

LP – 1384

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1014 Lot: 25


These seven theaters along West 42nd Street, all calendared in 1982, were overlooked for a reason. Times Square of the “Midnight Cowboy” era was run-down, under-populated, and considered unsafe. A recession in the mid-1970s, “white flight”, and a declining tax base left New York City desperate. Many historic theaters had already been chopped up into multiplex cinemas.

In 1973, John Portman, Jr. proposed to build a 50-story Marriott Marquis Hotel on Broadway between 45th and 46th Streets. This project would require the demolition of 2 former theaters (then cinemas), and three functioning Broadway houses – the Morosco, Bijoux, and Mary Martin. This news excited the business community, but galvanized actors & preservationists to protect what was left of the theater district.

Letters & op-eds were written, rallies were held, but by the early 1980s real estate interests had triumphed, and in 1982 steam shovels cleared the site. It is little wonder that at around this time most of the remaining theaters had been submitted to the LPC for designation as Individual Landmarks. In 1979 the New Amsterdam was designated, in 1982 the Little Theater (renamed for Helen Hayes) was designated, and in 1985 the interior of the Ambassador was designated. In 1987, twenty five additional theaters were designated by the LPC.

The seven remaining theaters were skipped over because by the mid-1980s the City and State of New York had created an Economic Development Corporation as a vehicle to “clean up” both sides of 42nd Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue). All of the houses below were acquired by eminent domain for the New 42nd Street, established in 1990. They developed an overall urban renewal plan, and turned over the theaters to individual developers for restoration or new construction. Because this entity was exempted from City regulations, the LPC was no longer able to consider the properties on their merits for designation.

What has happened to these properties since, while admirable in many ways, represents a broad range of approaches to renovation. The New Victory was restored, the Apollo interior incorporated into the Lyric, the Empire relocated and expanded, the Selwyn and Liberty refaced. The Times Square still awaits restoration. They are all worthy of Landmark designation, despite the de-construction of some elements.

In the early 1980s, West 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues was a neglected stretch of urban decay. New York residents and visitors avoided the area, and a growing public concern compelled New York State and City to join forces to eradicate the blight. The New 42nd Street was established by these public entities in late 1990 to assume long-term responsibility for the block’s seven historic theaters—The Victory, Times Square, Selwyn, Lyric, Liberty, Empire and Apollo. With this 99-year lease came the obligation to not only restore these theaters, but to create a new entertainment district for the 21st Century.

In 1991, aware of the risks involved, The New 42nd Street bravely chose the least desirable property under its aegis—the double-balconied 499-seat Victory Theater—to restore and reinvent first. The staff and board conceived the revolutionary idea of inviting kids and families to 42nd Street, and—after eighteen months of design and construction—proudly reopened the doors to The New Victory Theater on December 11, 1995, dedicating the oldest operating theater in New York City to its youngest theatergoers.

Gone is the blighted, hostile 42nd Street landscape of 1990. Today, 42nd Street is thriving and spirited with a vibrant mix of nonprofit, commercial and cultural institutions. Throughout the year, at any time during the day or night, Times Square plays host to New Yorkers and visitors from around the world as New York’s premier destination for popular art and entertainment, presenting the nuances of its glorious historic, cultural and architectural past.


Item II-C

HOTEL RENAISSANCE/COLUMBIA CLUB, 4 West 43rd Street, Manhattan

LP – 2070

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1258 Lot: 42

Hotel Renaissance-LPC

Originally the Renaissance Hotel, the building was designed by architect Clarence Luce and was constructed in 1890-91 as an apartment hotel for young men. By the turn of the 20th century, this neighborhood had changed dramatically and became fashionable, with theatres, hotels and clubs abounding. The Columbia Club moved into this location in 1915, departing the former club district of Gramercy. Many other clubs followed suit and eventually this area, centered around West 43rd and 44th Streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, emerged as the “Clubhouse District”.

This palazzo-style building is remarkably intact, save for its windows, including original storefronts, which is astounding in such proximity to the dynamic retail of Fifth Avenue. It is thought to be the only extant example of a Renaissance Revival hotel in New York City. This early style is reflective of the 1890s development in this area, making it significant as most hotels in this neighborhood date to the early 1900s and were rendered in a Beaux-Arts design, making the aptly-named Hotel Renaissance a rare survivor.


Item II-G

OSBORNE APARTMENT INTERIOR, 205 West 57th Street, Manhattan

LP – 1166

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1029 Lot: 27

Osborne Apartments Interior

The Osborne’s interior is a remarkable gem within the bustle of ever-changing 57th Street in Manhattan. Completed in 1885, the building’s intact interior is evocative of the panache and glimmer that defined the Gilded Age. The space glows with warmth and opulence, featuring Italian marble wainscoting and carved marble recesses with benches. The floors are mosaic tiles and marble, and the arched ceiling is treated in vibrant hues of red, blue and gold.

This interior masterpiece was designed by Jacob A. Holzer, whose peers in artistry included John LaFarge and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Often overshadowed by these artists, the equally talented Holzer completed most of his works in Chicago. The Osborne lobby is New York’s only known work by Holzer, and it is truly a gift. Five years after this work at the Osborne, in 1895, the immensely talented Holzer became the chief designer at Tiffany, and is credited with creating an electrified lantern prototype which served as the predecessor for the Tiffany Lamp.


Item II-I

SIRE BUILDING, 211 West 58th Street, Manhattan

LP – 2359

Landmark Manhattan Block: 1030 Lot: 25

Sire Bldg-LPC

This early flats building was commissioned by Benjamin Sire, a wealthy real estate magnate whom history has all but forgotten, save for his name emblazoned atop this building. The architect, William Graul, was a prolific architect of flats and tenement buildings. Much of his work remains scattered throughout Manhattan, and his original office still stands at 215 Bowery, in the Germania Bank.

Tucked between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, the Sire Building has remained virtually unscathed on West 58th Street since 1885, and this building is emblematic of the first wave of development in the neighborhood. What’s more, this building has remained despite the drastic high-rise construction that characterizes midtown. Its lively façade is rendered in High Victorian with Neo-Grec details. The commercial ground floor has been replaced, but the building retains its original carved wooden doors on its western bay. This structure is a relic, and deserves to be preserved as one example of early residential development, when 58th Street was of a more human scale.


Item II-K


LP – 965

Landmark Manhattan Block: 845 Lot: 2

Union Sq-LPC

Closed as a potter’s field in 1807, Union Place was laid out in 1811 at the union of Bloomingdale Road (Broadway) and the Bowery (4th Avenue), and stretched from 10th to 17th Streets. This confluence of streets was reduced from 14th to 17th streets in 1832, and the park was named Union Square at that time and consisted of a fenced-in oval in the middle of the square. In 1872, the park was redesigned by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux to suit large congregations of people, so the fence around the park was removed and a fountain was introduced to the center of the oval. The park was altered again in 1936 when the BMT subway was constructed, raising the park above grade on a four foot platform and park pathways were straightened, and the pavilion was constructed. Several renovations by the Parks Department in 1985 and 2005 have further altered the WPA era Union Square.

With two centuries of changes to the park, it is difficult to determine original historic fabric; moreover, what fabric from which period of time. Monuments within the park, the oldest being of George Washington erected in 1856 remain in situ, yet their surroundings have been completely reconfigured. One monument, the World War I memorial dedicated on Armistice Day 1934, has been removed altogether, and now lives on 23rd Street outside the Veterans Hospital. Union Square was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, its period of significance acknowledging the first Labor Day on September 5, 1882, when workers assembled en masse on the open north plaza. While the entities responsible for the stewardship of the park have been studious about interesting improvements, they have not had a good history of respecting its heritage and unfortunately, the park has been a magnet for accretions. The north plaza no longer is an uninterrupted expanse, undermining its claim to fame. Because of the lack of historic integrity, HDC does not support designation of Union Square as a New York City Scenic Landmark.


Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

Why City Council’s Proposed Bill Intro 775 is Detrimental to Landmarks

Posted by on Sunday, November 1, 2015 · 1 Comment 

Below is a memo in opposition to Intro 775, the bill which aims to halt landmarks designations.  There will be a hearing on Wednesday, September 9th at  11am in the City Council Chambers at City Hall. We urge you to attend and testify on this bill as it has the potential to affect all future designation activities of the LPC.

In the memo is the latest list of those groups who have signed on in opposition – including our colleagues at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. If you have responded and do not see your organization named, my apologies – please respond to this email and I will correct the list.  If you want to add your organization’s name to the list, please respond to this email and tell me  – we are listing only organizations only at this time.



August 26, 2015

Re: Intro. 775

Dear Council Member,

We write to express our serious concerns about Intro. 775. We share the desire for a swift, predictable and transparent landmark designation process and have given much consideration to how the current process could be improved to accomplish those goals. However, the bill as currently written would achieve the exact opposite. It would discourage the consideration of complicated or controversial sites and encourage obstruction rather than designation. In fact, if the provisions of Intro. 775 had been part of the Landmarks Law, some of our city’s most cherished and valued landmarks and historic districts would not have been designated (see below). Furthermore, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) would have been prohibited from considering them again for a period of five years, during which time they would likely have been compromised or destroyed.

Intro. 775 is unnecessary.

The impetus for this bill appears to be the 95 sites currently on the LPC’s backlog which were calendared more than five years ago without a final decision yet rendered by the Commission. The LPC has committed to a plan to hear and make final decisions on all of these sites by the end of 2016, thus making this bill superfluous.

Our research shows that the LPC has a solid track record of timely designation, if not within the strict limits described by Intro. 775, then nonetheless within a reasonable period of time.

Intro. 775 makes an existing problem worse.

In the instances where LPC has failed to act within the proposed limits, this failure has been in part a result of the Commission’s limited resources. Designations require heavy investment of staff time towards extensive research, in-depth examination of boundaries, a full airing of all information and viewpoints on a subject, and the production of highly-detailed reports.

Intro. 775 would do nothing to expand the resources of the Commission, New York City’s smallest agency charged with regulating more than 33,000 structures. Nor would it make complicated designation proposals easier or less time-consuming to vet. Instead, it would force LPC to make decisions about boundaries before they have fully considered all issues. It would prevent LPC from dedicating adequate time to complete the highly-detailed designation reports requested by property owners. At minimum, it would force LPC to make decisions before all information has been contemplated and all discussions have taken place. Far worse, LPC may simply avoid considering sites with complicating factors that might not allow a final decision within the prescribed timeframes.

Intro. 775 creates a new problem.

Intro. 775 would also encourage an owner who is strongly opposed to designation to seek delays in the process in the hopes of “running out the clock” and avoiding landmark designation. The owners of some of our city’s most prized landmarks , from Grand Central Terminal to the interior of Radio City Music Hall, opposed designation and likely would have exploited this “do or die” timeframe.

In summary, Intro. 775 as currently written should not be approved because:


Sincerely, (signed) LIST IN FORMATION

FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts

Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

Historic Districts Council


  1. 29th Street Neighborhood Association
  2. Bay Improvement Group
  3. Beachside Bungalows Preservation Association
  4. Bowery Alliance of Neighbors
  5. Brooklyn Heights Association
  6. Carnegie Hill Neighbors
  7. Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation
  8. Coalition for a Livable West Side
  9. Defenders of the Historic Upper East Side
  10. East Harlem Preservation, Inc.
  11. East Village Community Coalition
  12. Fiske Terrace-Midwood Park Historic District
  13. Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance
  14. Friends of Brook Park
  15. Friends of Petrosino Square
  16. Friends of Steinway Mansion
  17. Friends of Terra Cotta
  18. Friends of the Lower East Side
  19. Greater Astoria Historical Society
  20. Greenwich Village Community Task Force
  21. Historic Park Avenue
  22. Jackson Heights Garden City Society
  23. Kew Gardens Civic Association
  24. Lower East Side Preservation Initiative
  25. Morningside Heights Historic District Committee
  26. National Trust for Historic Preservation
  27. New York Preservation Alliance
  28. Park Slope Civic Council
  29. Preservation Greenpoint
  30. Queens Preservation Council
  31. Save Chelsea
  32. Save Harlem Now!
  33. Senator Street Historic District
  34. Society for the Architecture of the City
  35. Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance
  36. Tribeca Trust
  37. Victorian Society of New York
  38. West End Preservation Society


Analysis of the Effects of

Intro. 775 on Landmark Designation 

As proposed, Intro. 775 mandates for the consideration of historic districts the LPC has:

• 12 months from a vote to calendar to hold a public hearing

• 12 months from the public hearing to vote to designate or the district cannot be acted upon for five years.

While the City Council’s own dataset shows that only 20% of historic districts have exceeded the thresholds proposed by Intro. 775 since 1998, a look back to the creation of the Landmarks Law 50 years ago demonstrates that more than one third (38%) of all districts would not have made it through the proposed timeline. Particularly troubling is the breadth and diversity of the historic districts which would have been rejected – or, at best, deferred for five years.

Under Intro. 775, the following historic districts could not have been designated when originally proposed:

  1. Bedford-Stuyvesant /Expanded Stuyvesant Heights
  2. Bertine Block
  3. Boerum Hill
  4. Carnegie Hill
  5. Carnegie Hill Expansion
  6. Carroll Gardens
  7. Central Park West – 76th Street
  8. Central Ridgewood
  9. Chelsea
  10. Clay Avenue
  11. Clinton Hill
  12. Cobble Hill Extension
  13. Crown Heights North Phase III
  14. Fieldston
  15. Fiske Terrace/Midwood Park
  16. Gramercy Park
  17. Gramercy Park Extension
  18. Grand Concourse
  19. Greenpoint
  20. Greenwich Village
  21. Hamilton Heights
  22. Henderson Place
  23. Hunters Point
  24. Jackson Heights
  25. Ladies’ Mile
  26. MacDougal-Sullivan Gardens
  27. Morris Avenue
  28. Morris High School
  29. Mott Haven
  30. Mott Haven East
  31. Mount Morris Park
  32. Park Slope
  33. Ridgewood South
  34. Riverdale
  35. Riverside Drive-West 80th- 81st Street
  36. Riverside Drive-West 105th Street
  37. Riverside Drive-West End
  38. Riverside Drive-West End Extension I
  39. Riverside Drive-West End II
  40. SoHo-Cast Iron
  41. South Street Seaport Extension
  42. St. Mark’s
  43. St. Mark’s Extension
  44. Stuyvesant Heights
  45. Tribeca East
  46. Tribeca North
  47. Tribeca South
  48. Tribeca South Extension
  49. Tribeca West
  50. Tudor City
  51. Upper East Side
  52. Upper West Side/Central Park West West 71st Street
  53. West End – Collegiate Extension

Further analysis suggests that larger, more expansive historic districts take the longest for the LPC to consider for designation as they require more community education, architectural research and consensus-building. These 53 historic districts encompass more than 17,900 buildings, approximately 54% of the total number of buildings currently protected by the Landmarks Law.

If Intro. 775 had been in effect since 1965, half of New York City’s landmark properties would not be protected and New York City would be infinitely poorer for it.



Category: Blog, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Newsfeed, Special Blog · Tags: , ,

Secret Lives Tour: Church of the Intercession and Trinity Cemetery

Posted by on Thursday, October 29, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Trinity cemetery facing west-sm

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

11 AM – 1 PM

Historic Districts Council will host an exclusive tour of Church of the Intercession and Trinity Cemetery on Wednesday, October 28 from 11am-1pm. Celebrate Halloween early with an excursion uptown to Manhattan’s last active cemetery and a neighboring Gothic Revival church, both at the border of Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights.

One of the genuine masterpieces of religious architecture in New York City, Church of the Intercession is considered by many to be amongst the finest examples of the Gothic Revival style. Walk the halls of this privately owned Landmark parish 1846 and learn about its rich cultural history. Director of Music William Randolph, Jr. will lead an organ demonstration on The Great Aeolain Skinner Organ, which has served the parish since 1968. Bertram Goodhue’s tomb and the high alter will be pen for exploration in addition to the spectacular Crypt Chapel.

Following the Church tour, join Eric K. Washington on a walk through Trinity Church Cemetery. Steeped in civic and social history, this 24-acre garden cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the archetype of New York City’s eventful past and its cultural melting pot. Notable interments here include John James Audubon, naturalist; New York City Mayors Cadwallader D. Colden, Fernando Wood, A. Oakey Hall and Edward I. Koch; Madame Eliza Jumel, adventuress; John Jacob Astor, merchant; Clement Clarke Moore, poet; Philip Ernst, flutist; and David Hosack, doctor and New-York Historical Society co-founder. Urban development frames this modest natural landscape, which forms the only active cemetery on Manhattan island.

General Admission $20, Friends $15

Click here to purchase tickets.

Category: Program & Events, Walking Tour · Tags:

Thanks for Visiting

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