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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

The since-demolished P.S. 31, “The Castle of the Grand Concourse”

Historic preservation as both a strategy and as a philosophy is under attack as never before.

Although community advocates have achieved some big successes in recent years by gaining long-sought landmark designations and thwarting (or at least modifying) destructive proposals to historic buildings, the Real Estate Board of New York (“REBNY”), the principal lobbyist for organized real estate, has been relentless in its campaign to undermine the Landmarks Law and all community preservation efforts.

Emboldened by years of record growth, REBNY is 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. 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 designates and regulates historic properties. To hear them tell it, landmark designation transforms New York into a lifeless museum city with a “look but don’t touch” mentality.

The Historic Districts Council (“HDC”) feels that nothing could be further from the truth. 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.

HDC 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.

The threat to preservation laws and historic buildings is still very real. HDC will continue counter arguing REBNY as long as they continue to release studies based on lies  and misconceptions. 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.

2017 Grassroots Preservation Awards- John J. Harvey Fireboat


Architect and preservationist Huntley Gill likes to get people out onto the water. He is the Captain of the fireboat John J. Harvey, which he and a dedicated group of volunteers saved from the scrap yard. Launched in 1931, the fireboat served the City of New York and New York Harbor until she retired in 1994. She was historic first; the first fireboat powered by internal combustion engines, and the largest, fastest fire fighting machine of her time, capable of pumping 18,000 gallons per minutes. On September 11, 2001, John J. Harvey was recalled to service by FDNY and reactivated, pumping water for 80 hours until water mains in Lower Manhattan were restored to service. Today the fireboat is moored at Pier 66 Maritime, at 26th Street and the Hudson River. The fireboat now serves as a operational museum and educational center, offering free public trips to New Yorkers and visitors.


Category: Grassroots Awards · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for Hearing on March 28, 2017

Posted by on Monday, March 27, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.


Item 1

196 Guernsey Street – Greenpoint Historic District


An Italianate style rowhouse built c. 1865. Application is to modify window openings and replace windows.

Project Architect: Palette Architecture

HDC is concerned with the proposed double sliding glass door, which distracts from the building’s original Italianate style. We would suggest a simpler solution of altering a window to create a door down to the first floor.


Item 2

55 Joralemon Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District


A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1848. Application is to alter the parapet and install a cornice.

Project Architect: NV/design.architecture

HDC applauds the applicant’s overall restoration efforts on this historic building, but our committee has a few suggestions. The proposed parapet and cornice are highly visible and close to eye-level, and as such, our committee urges the applicant to put careful thought into their materials and placement. We find the use of synthetic materials to be inappropriate for brownstone Brooklyn and would suggest the installation of a sheet metal cornice instead. We also suggest the applicant work with staff to get the proportions just right, using examples from the streetscape to guide these necessary changes.


Item 3

536 Halsey Street – Bedford Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights Historic District


An altered Queen Anne style garage building designed by Axel S. Hedman and built c. 1904, and a one-story utilitarian garage building built in the 20th century. Application is to demolish the one-story garage building and construct a new building, alter the front and rear facades of the three-story garage building, construct a rooftop addition, alter the front areaway, replace the sidewalk, and excavate at the rear.

Project Architect: ROART

HDC is opposed to the overwhelming amount of added bulk proposed for this group of buildings. With no precedent for a five-story building height on this block or its vicinity, the rooftop additions would stick out and call way too much attention to themselves. Considering the low-rise nature of this area, HDC feels that the proposed additions should be brought down to better respond to their context. While our committee finds the alterations to the base of the larger garage building to be thoughtful, the proposed design of the new building gave us pause. Despite the proposed use of quality materials, its design could certainly benefit from further finesse, especially in its proportions and response to the buildings on either side of it. We also request that the cornice design and alignment take cues from the existing streetscape. As proposed, the cornice seems to float in an odd position apart from the building next to it and apart from the very consistent cornice line of the rowhouses on this side of the block. HDC asks the Commission to request another attempt at the proposed scheme for this site.


Item 12

482 Broome Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District


A store building designed by John McIntyre and built in 1883-84. Application is to enlarge a rooftop bulkhead.

Project Architect: Robert Strong Architect

By bumping up the proposed bulkhead, further attention would be called to the visibility of the existing bulkhead atop this building. Its material choice and the building’s corner location also make this installation especially problematic. Therefore, HDC requests that the applicant investigate solutions to bring down the head height of the bulkhead, including the possibility of installing a hydraulic elevator.


Item 13

380 West Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District


An Italianate style store and storehouse building designed by Edward H. Kendall and built in 1873-74. Application is to enlarge the elevator bulkhead and install a new door at the ground floor.

Project Architect: Beyhan Karahan & Associates

Echoing our testimony for 482 Broome Street, HDC finds the visibility of this extra-tall bulkhead to detract from the building, and would suggest that the applicant investigate other options for bringing down its height.


Item 14

12 West 19th Street – Ladies’ Mile Historic District


An Italianate style dwelling built in 1859 and altered in 1910 for commercial use. Application is to alter the front façade, replace windows, and construct rooftop and rear additions.

Project Architect: SWA Architecture

Our committee is concerned about the visibility of the proposed rooftop addition. The applicant has provided no mock-up to indicate whether or not the addition would be visible from the public way. We look forward to seeing a revised application that includes this mock-up and proves the proposed addition would not be visible.


Item 15

160 Fifth Avenue – Ladies’ Mile Historic District


A neo-Renaissance style office, store and loft building designed by Robert Henderson Robertson and built in 1891-92. Application is to install a barrier-free access ramp.

Project Architect: MdeAS Architects

Given the grandeur of this building and this section of Fifth Avenue, HDC finds that a banal ramp such as this directly fronting Fifth Avenue would be an unfortunate disruption to the streetscape. Therefore, we ask the Commission to request the investigation of an interior solution for making this very large interior floor plate accessible.


Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , , ,

Success For Loew’s 157 Theater!

Posted by on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez has officially endorsed the designation of the United Palace Theater!


Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez has officially endorsed the designation of the Loew’s 175th aka United Palace Theater! At a press conference at the United Palace Theater, CM Rodriguez announced that he was in support of the Landmarks Preservation Commission designation. He said “this is not my victory, this is our victory” and praised the theater as “a treasure for the whole nation”. 
Below is the statement Simeon Bankoff gave at the press conference: 
“The Historic Districts Council is thrilled to stand with CM Rodriguez and the Upper Manhattan community to help ensure this remarkable building continues long into the future. The owners of the United Palace have made this beautiful buildings into a true landmark for the entire city and their stewardship and commitment is a shining example of how to make the best of the past a vibrant part of New York. We hope that as Upper Manhattan continues to grow and change, more valued community places like this one are protected and nourished.”

The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Loew’s 175th Street Theater in upper Manhattan as an individual NYC landmark on December 13, 2016. The Thomas Lamb-designed theater was completed in 1930 and was originally heard by LPC for landmark designation in 1970. 46 years later, the public again spoke in favor of this truly amazing Wonder Theater. This morning, the theater was heard at the NYC City Planning Commission and shortly it will be brought to the NYC City Council for a vote.

The issue? The local councilmember, Ydanis Rodriguez, does not support landmarking. This is crucial because the City Council defers to the local councilmember when voting on landmark approvals.

Councilmember Rodriguez initially supported designation and since has rescinded this support. He initially cited the reason for his decision was that there were other buildings in the neighborhood that should be protected as well, perhaps even before the Loew’s.

This reasoning is troubling from a number of perspectives. To begin with, a landmark designation should be based, for the most part, on merit. When the LPC undertakes a designation, it is weighing numerous factors in its deliberations but paramount among them is architectural, cultural and historical significance. The exercise of the agency’s recent backlog95 initiative revealed some buildings whose significance had been diminished by alterations to the extent that they were no longer meritorious of landmark designation. The Loew’s 175 Street Theater was not one of them.

Furthermore, using the Loew’s building as a political bargaining chip in order to protect other buildings in this community district is not a good strategy. A separate campaign directing advocacy efforts towards preserving those sites he wishes to be protected should be launched and HDC would be happy to work with his office on such a campaign. However, the Loew’s should not be sacrificed in an attempt to influence the Landmarks Commission. All that would definitely accomplish would be one less landmark in Washington Heights; and a waste of precious city resources.

Finally, defying public support for this building when the community wants its protection is antithetical to the role of a local councilmember. In late January, Manhattan Community Board 12 passed a resolution reiterating its support of landmark designation of the theater due to its architectural and cultural significance. This is truly a landmark of the community and one which is known throughout the city as a place to visit and see, in no small part due to the stewardship of its owners.

HDC understands that CM Rodriguez is sympathetic to the owner of the theater, which is a religious institution, and its operator which is a not-for-profit. Both oppose landmark designation for fear of additional costs and landmark designation interfering with the profitable functioning of the building. To address these reasonable concerns, it’s important to note that the landmark designation only affects the exterior of the building (which is unfortunate as the interior is truly remarkable). Maintaining a landmark exterior is not inherently more costly than maintaining any building exterior. Nor does landmark designation increase business costs or stand in the way of religious observances, public performances or any interior uses. While the Landmarks Commission only oversees 3.5% of New York City’s buildings, that portfolio includes many prominent buildings that are successfully used for a variety of purposes; from transit hubs to theaters to churches, and the agency has a long history of working with the stewards of landmark buildings to ensure that their properties remain economically successful.

Last year, responding to massive community concern, CM Rodriguez listened to his constituents and opposed a controversial MIH-rezoning in his district. While this action was widely lauded by community activists, it will unfortunately not save that specific historic building or even the scale of the area. In this instance, a proposed city action will preserve the community’s scale and protect a specific building, and a spectacular one at that. Please send Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez a message today to stand with his community and support landmarking the Loew’s.


Read Our Testimony

Category: Alert, Featured, Special Blog · Tags:

Cocktails and Conversation

Posted by on Monday, March 20, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

1st Year Preservationist Student and HDC intern, Patrick Waldo Asks Simeon Bankoff EVERYTHING

Cocktails and Conversation


Simeon Bankoff  and HDC’s new intern Patrick Waldo

Friday, March 31st


Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street NY, NY 10003

Ever want to sit down with HDC Executive Director Simeon Bankoff and pick his brain? We know you have. Well here is your chance to live vicariously through our new intern Patrick Waldo as he asks Simeon EVERYTHING. As a novice preservationist Patrick has many questions about how preservation works in NYC, what influences it and what it influences. Join us for some fun conversation and tasty cocktails and have all your questions answered by the man with all the answers!




Category: Event, Featured · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for Hearing on March 14/21, 2016

Posted by on Friday, March 17, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

Due to severe weather, the LPC’s March 14, 2017, Public Hearing was continued to March 21, 2017. HDC’s testimony for items on the March 14th calendar, posted below, will be read on March 21st.

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.


Item 1

35-55 87th Street – Jackson Heights Historic District


An Anglo-American Garden Home style house built in 1925. Application is to legalize the installation of windows, retaining wall, door and security gate without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

These relatively simple houses lend charm and a human scale to the Jackson Heights Historic District. This contribution is largely derived from subtle, but important details: windows, doors, gutters, slate tiles, front yards, etc. As such, HDC urges the Commission to require the installation of wood windows with proper brick molds, as the replacement windows’ frames appear too thick. We would also like to make a plea for a front door based on the design of the one found here originally. Another detail on the façade, though not listed as part of this application, are the gutters, which have quite unfortunately been changed to white painted aluminum. Restoring the half round copper gutters would go a long way toward honoring this house’s historic appearance and contribution to the district. Finally, we also note that while there have been many retaining walls installed at front yards in this district, we question the approval of illegal walls like this one. At the very least, the wall should be redesigned to be more in keeping with others found in the district. The top layer of brick is not well integrated into the rest of the wall, making the entire thing look clunky. A more thoughtful attempt might make the wall more acceptable.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications



Item 2

35-57 87th Street – Jackson Heights Historic District


An Anglo-American Garden Home style house built in 1925. Application is to legalize the installation of windows and a retaining wall without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

As we stated in the previous application, HDC would like to make a plea for the installation of wood windows and half round copper gutters.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 4

120 Brooklyn Avenue – Crown Heights North Historic District


A Queen Anne style house designed by Henry B. Hill and built c. 1893. Application is to install a fence and pergola.

HDC takes issue with the proposed pergola, which would be extremely prominent directly on the corner, detracting from the view of this charming Queen Anne style house. Unfortunately, its material and color choice would also be incongruous with the style of the house, making it even more of an obstruction. While our committee does not object to the installation of an iron fence, we would suggest that the applicant study other fences in the neighborhood to ensure that its height is appropriate.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 5

546 Carlton Avenue – Prospect Heights Historic District


A Renaissance Revival style rowhouse designed by John H. Crown and built c. 1889. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and install windows.

Project Architect: Barker Freeman

While on first glance the impact of this addition seems minimal, its rear visibility from Bergen Street is significant. Our committee recommends taking steps to bring down the height and manipulate the materials in such a way that this addition becomes less glaring.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 6

541 Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District


A neo-Classical style store and loft building designed by Charles Mettam and built in 1869. Application is to construct a ramp, and legalize the replacement of vault lights with diamond plate and the installation of a flagpole and intercom without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

Project Architect: Howard L. Zimmerman Architects, P.C.

Where possible, as a rule, HDC advocates for the in-kind replacement of vault light covers, a special feature on the sidewalks of former manufacturing districts like SoHo. In the application before you, on the Broadway side of the building, the proposed ramp would cover many of the existing lights, so the scope of this work would not be significant. However, the impact of keeping the historic appearance by replacing the vault light covers with cast iron to match the originals would be significant, so HDC asks that their in-kind replacement at this relatively small section of sidewalk be required. We would also advocate for the same treatment on the Mercer Street side.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 15

54 Franklin Street – TriBeCa East Historic District


A Renaissance Revival style store and loft building designed by Charles R. Behrens and built in 1891-92. Application is to remove concealed vault lights and install a concrete sidewalk.

Project Architect: Chi F. Lau Architect

HDC is opposed to this application, which seeks to remove a unique historic feature in the TriBeCa East Historic District. The vault lights of former manufacturing districts like TriBeCa and SoHo, in which you heard a similar application earlier today, are a constant source of interest for tourists and locals alike. These simple yet elegantly designed glass lenses directly connect everyone who comes in contact with them to the rich industrial history of New York City. HDC feels that restoring vault lights wherever possible is a step in the right direction, and good practice for this Commission. The application describes these vault lights as being “not a prominent feature on the block.” Unfortunately, this may be true. They are not a prominent feature because so many have been removed. Historically, however, they were a prominent feature, and HDC urges the applicant to replace them in kind.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 16

41 Park Row (Former New York Times Building) – Individual Landmark 


A Richardsonian-Romanesque style office building designed by George B. Post and built in 1888-89, and later enlarged by Robert Maynicke in 1903-05. Application is to install storefronts, entrances and signage.

Project Architect: Fx Fowle Architects, LLP

41 Park Row, the former New York Times Building, is a very prominent building on a very prominent block, and should be respected as such. HDC finds that the proposed oversized glass windows at the base would be incongruous with the building’s historic character, and detract from its overall appearance. Changes made to this Individual Landmark in the 1950s – before the building was designated – are more appropriate than the stark changes being proposed in this post-designation application, which would erase the base’s historic window configuration completely. Considering that this is not a prime retail location and does not appear to be proposed for such a use, we see very little justification for this alteration. The cracks in the granite base also do not justify the introduction of so much glass. If the cracks represent an issue that needs to be remedied, HDC would suggest restoring the granite instead. In any event, an appropriate intervention should take cues from the structure’s very well documented past.

LPC determination: No Action


Item 17

601 Lexington Avenue – The Citicorp Center (former) – Individual Landmark


A late 20th century modern style mixed use complex designed by Hugh A. Stubbins and built in 1973-78. Application is to modify the base and entrances at the market building.

Project Architect: Gensler

The public has been informed that proposed changes to the sunken courtyard of the Citicorp Center were approved by the City Planning Commission prior to designation and that permits have been filed with the Department of Buildings. HDC wishes to express its regret at reports that the water feature may be removed from the space, which seems like an unfortunate loss. We would suggest that the LPC retain a seat at the table in discussions for the fate of the courtyard by working closely with the owner, and perhaps the MTA, to find an alternative or to return this decorative feature, which provides an element of civility and whimsy to the space.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , , ,


Posted by on Wednesday, March 15, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

Join HDC and Francis Morrone for a comprehensive look at the immigrant history of the Upper East Side of Manhattan


Saturday, April 1 at 2:00PM

Saturday, May 6 at 2:00PM

Saturday, June 3 at 2:00PM


Join HDC and Francis Morrone for a comprehensive look at a curiously under-recognized swatch of New York’s rich historic fabric. In three tours we will focus on the fascinating immigrant history of this part of the Upper East Side of Manhattan. The first tour will have a bit of a focus on the Czechs, the second on the Hungarians, the third on the Germans, though all three groups, and several others, will be represented in all three tours. In addition, we will look at the broader demographic history (especially the century-long history of gentrification), and how that history is manifested in architecture, and at the histories of housing, religion, institutions, breweries, and much else. Each tour will begin outside one of the stations of the new Second Avenue Subway–72nd Street, 86th Street, and 96th Street, and will weave among the blocks between Third Avenue and the East River. Tour 1 will cover 72nd to 79th Streets, Tour 2 will cover 79th to 86th Streets, and Tour 3 will cover 86th to 96th Streets. This is a rare opportunity for an in-depth, many-faceted study on foot of a whole, remarkably diverse neighborhood.







This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional support is provided by New York City Council Member Ben Kallos.

Category: Event, Featured, Six to Celebrate · Tags:

2017 Grassroots Preservation Awards

Posted by on Monday, March 13, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

The 2017 Grassroots Preservation Awards : Tue., May 2nd,  at Saint Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery

Every year, the Historic Districts Council celebrates New York’s brightest community preservationists with our Annual Grassroots Preservation Awards. The party will take place on Tuesday, May 2nd, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Saint Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, 131 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003 and we hope you’ll join us.

Please consider becoming a Co-Sponsor and help celebrate our awardees for their dedication to preserving New York City’s fantastic neighborhoods. This year’s Grassroots Awards recipients work on the ground, in public service and online to bring attention and resources to saving the heart and soul of New York City. 



____ $100      4 tickets

____ $250      8 tickets & half-page journal ad

____ $500      8 tickets & full-page journal ad

____ $100      half-page journal ad (no tickets)

____ $250      full-page journal ad (no tickets)


Category: Featured, Grassroots Awards · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Waldorf-Astoria Interiors Have Been Designated!

Posted by on Tuesday, March 7, 2017 · 12 Comments 

The Waldorf-Astoria has been calendared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission! Thank You!

Please Don't Disturb the Art Deco


View the self-guided tour 


DESIGNATED! Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Waldorf-Astoria had a Public Hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission on January 27, 2017. View our testimony

The Waldorf-Astoria has been officially calendared by the Landmarks Preservation Commission!


2. 301 Park Avenue – Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Interiors

Manhattan – Block 1304 – Lot 7501 CD: 5

Interior spaces on the Ground, First, Second and Third Floors in the Art Deco individual landmark skyscraper hotel built 1929-31, by Schultze and Weaver, with Lloyd Morgan, partner in charge.

On Tuesday, November 1, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will vote to calendar a number of publicly-accessible spaces in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for consideration as NYC Interior Landmarks.  The LPC will be considering:

The ground floor interior, consisting of

The first floor interior consisting of

The second floor interior consisting of

The third floor interior consisting of


LPC is considering all the fixtures and interior components of these spaces, which may include but are not limited to the wall surfaces, ceiling surfaces and floor surfaces, murals, mirrors, chandeliers, lighting fixtures, attached furnishings, doors, exterior elevator doors and grilles, railings and balustrades, decorative metalwork and attached decorative elements.

The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was bought by the Chinese corporation Anbang Insurance Group in 2014 for $1.95 billion. Anbang has announced that the majority of the hotel’s 1,300 hotel suites will be converted into residential units but the exact plans have not been made public leaving the hotel’s distinctive and glamorous ballrooms and lobbies to an uncertain fate.

HDC, along with our preservation allies, raised public concerns about the preservation of this distinctive New York space – and hosted a free self-guided tour of the hotel which was attended by over 300 people! Coincidentally, it was the same night at the hotel’s 85th Birthday celebration and preservationists had a merry time being chased by vigilant hotel security.  We also participated in a virtual tour of the interior spaces for Travel + Leisure Magazine led by our friends at the Art Deco Society of New York.

We’re thrilled that the LPC is taking this step to help protect this distinctive and quintessential New York icon. Thank you to everyone who wrote in and showed up – your voice matters and, with your support, sometimes we can have nice things!

The unthinkable has arrived: some of New York’s most opulent and sumptuous publicly-accessible interior spaces may soon vanish in the dust of renovation.

While the exterior is protected as an Individual Landmark, the Waldorf-Astoria’s fantastic interior hallways, lobby and ballrooms remain unprotected. The new owner of the storied skyscraper,  Anbang Insurance Group, plans to close the Waldorf-Astoria for three years and spend more than $1 billion gut-renovating the entire building for a condominium conversion, which will radically transform the famed hotel’s interior.

The 1931 masterpiece was designed and maintained to operate as the world’s premier hotel. While specific plans for the renovation have not been circulated, we are unfortunately certain that, without protection and appropriate oversight, any interior renovations to these grand spaces will certainly lead to diminution of design excellence and the destruction of original finishings that can never be replaced.

Please scroll down to view some photos of the lavish rooms, which HDC was able to access with ease, in order to share some of this treasure with you! We encourage you to make a visit, too. These exquisite spaces are all open to the public.

Don’t count on someone else to act – we need your help!

Please click here to send Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan a letter urging the Landmarks Preservation Commission to act swiftly and Calendar the Waldorf-Astoria. What’s here today may be gone tomorrow. HDC thanks our colleagues at the Art Deco Society of NY and the Landmarks Conservancy, who are also calling the world to action.

A copy of our letter (please click here to send yours):

I urge the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the interiors of the Waldorf-Astoria at 301 Park Avenue, Manhattan. These interiors were designed to be the utmost in hotel opulence and survive remarkably intact. A major restoration was undertaken in 1983. The rooms that need protection include the Park Avenue lobby, which includes the “Wheel of Life” mosaic tile artwork by the 1925 Paris Exposition showcase artist Louis Rigal, and is composed of 148,000 marble tiles from seven different countries; the Lexington Avenue Lobby and Peacock Alley, which features a clock from the Columbian Exposition of 1893; the Grand Ballroom, Astor and Jade ballrooms, all of which retain their original finishings; the Basildon Room with finishings imported from an 18th century country house in Berkshire, England; the Silver room, which is covered with mirrors, inspired by Versaille’s Galerie des Glaces, include Edward Simmons murals of the months and seasons, originally installed in the Astor Gallery in the original 1897 Waldorf on 5th Avenue; and the Starlight Roof, whose original remaining features are largely intact, including the Art Deco grille work ceiling, which originally retracted, allowing guests to dine and drink beneath the stars above Park Avenue before being permanently closed in 1950 to accommodate HVAC.  Original features abound throughout all of the major, publicly accessible rooms and corridors in this magnificent building, including Art Deco moldings, ceiling medallions, elaborate carved woodwork, marble pilasters, murals, grille work, railings, light fixtures, banisters, counter tops, door enframements and plaster work.

Don’t let the Waldorf-Astoria be destroyed on your administration’s watch. The Waldorf’s interiors are irreplaceable artworks which add to the glory of New York City and should be preserved for future generations of New Yorkers.

Category: Alert, LPC · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for Hearing on March 7, 2017

Posted by on Monday, March 6, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.


Item 1

18-33 41st Street (Steinway House) Individual Landmark


An Italianate style country villa built in the 1850s. Application is to replace windows.

Project: The L Group

As part of the legacy of the Steinway family, 18-33 41st Street, also known as the Steinway House, holds an important role in New York City history. It is also one of the stand-out landmarks in the community and one of the most famous landmarks in the borough. As such, HDC believes this building must be treated with respect. We are aware of the recent history of the structure and note with some alarm the reports in the media of its neglect as well as the incongruous development on the surrounding property, which is unfortunately outside the boundaries of the landmark site. Therefore, we strongly recommend that necessary replacement windows be real wood windows, perhaps with custom brick moulds to achieve a historic appearance, to replace the existing ones. We also recommend that the applicant take a closer look at the details of the sills. These efforts would start the long road toward properly preserving the structure, although its long-term survival depends on finding a compatible and sustainable use for this historic house.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 2

39-13 48th Street – Sunnyside Gardens Historic District


A rowhouse with Colonial Revival style details designed by Clarence Stein, Henry Wright and Frederick Ackerman and built in 1927. Application is to enlarge an existing rear yard extension.

Project architect: Creo Design Collaborative & Keith F. Buckley, Architect

One of the great features of the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District that largely remains from the original design is the uniformity of massing in its individual structures. This consistency contributes to the neighborhood’s hallmark: its sense of community. The proposed rear yard extension spoils this unique feature and detracts from the historic character of the district. The rhythm of extensions in these backyards is so strong that departing from it would be a step backward, and exactly what the historic district designation was meant to prevent. Furthermore, the precedents shown in the application were completed before designation, and thus should not serve as examples of good preservation practice. As the Landmarks Commission is well aware, Sunnyside Gardens had a long history of clear regulatory oversight which unfortunately lapsed for a decade. Please don’t push the district into that dark, lawless time. HDC looks forward to seeing a revised plan that is more respectful of the original, and mostly extant, historic design of the community.

LPC determination: Denied


Item 3

141 Bergen Street – Boerum Hill Historic District


A modified Italianate style rowhouse built in 1871-1873. Application is to construct a rearyard addition.

Project architect: Andrew Reyniak

HDC has a number of concerns with this application. The prevailing character of Boerum Hill’s rowhouses are their simplicity of design, especially in comparison to the more stylized rowhouses of the neighboring Cobble Hill Historic District. With that in mind, HDC finds that fancifying this house’s simple rear façade with elaborate brickwork would be an inappropriate gesture. In keeping with the Commission’s practice of preserving the configuration of the top floor, our Committee finds that the third level of the addition obscures that top floor too much. In addition to finding no precedent in the district for cantilevered balconies, we also wish to alert the Commission to a potential zoning issue, as the proposed setbacks might represent a non-compliant inner court. Finally, we feel that some of the key features of the rear façade should be retained, namely the corbelled brick cornice, which it shares with its neighbors, and the brick relieving arches. With the introduction of so much texture and varied brick in the proposal, it seems like an oversight to throw away these historic brick features. Brooklyn’s protected historic buildings deserve more sensitivity than what is being proposed.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 10

138-140 West 11th Street – Greenwich Village Historic District


A pair of Italianate style houses built in 1855 and altered c. 1920. Application is to alter the front façade and areaway, alter the existing rooftop addition, replace cornices, and relocate the historic porch at the rear façade.

Project architect: (not listed)

Given the intent to convert two buildings into one very large house, HDC urges the applicant to consider the current streetscape in their design. While hardware was found as evidence that shutters existed at some point, our committee is concerned with their application here. The proposed use of shutters on these Italianate style houses sets them apart from their context in the row, where shutters are no longer found. We caution against using shutters, as such a heavy-handed intervention would only serve to draw attention to the fact that these two houses are now one oversized mansion. This is a commendable project in many respects, but the overall effect seems to erase the specificity of the two historic buildings and replace them with a pastiche of the kind of mammoth townhouse which just never existed in this community. This seems to be a case of losing the forest for the sake of the trees and could be avoided with certain design decisions. In the rear, we object to the unifying cornice, another gesture designed to erase the site’s history as two distinct houses.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 12

151 Central Park West – Central Park West – West 76th Street Historic District


A French Beaux-Arts style apartment building designed by Townsend, Steinle & Haskell and built in 1906-08. Application is to replace a window.

Manufacturer: Panorama Windows, Ltd.

The original window the applicant proposes to replace is a special leaded glass window that should be preserved. If it is found to be too deteriorated, it should be replicated in kind, not thrown away. If safety is a concern, we would recommend incorporating safety glazing.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 13

36 West 94th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District


A Queen Anne rowhouse with Romanesque Revival and neo-Grec elements designed by Increase M. Grenell and built in 1888. Application is to install a glass canopy.

Project architect: IBI Group – Gruzen Samton

HDC finds the location and position of this canopy to be quite awkward, especially since it obscures the brownstone around the entrance. We would suggest a solution executed in decorative stone or to make use of the stuccoed area above the door instead.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 14

269 West 138th Street – St. Nicholas Historic District


A Georgian style rowhouse designed by Bruce Price and Clarence C. Luce, and built in 1891. Application is to remove a garage constructed without Landmarks Preservation Commission permits, to construct a new garage, and to expand an existing rear yard extension.

Project architect: Archetype Design Studio

In the proposal, the applicant shows a number of other garages that have been approved by the LPC, yet all of these share a red brick material palette, as opposed to yellow brick, and lower parapet heights than the one proposed here. We suggest that the applicant take its cues from these approved examples found in the row.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 15

2516 Grand Concourse – Dollar Savings Bank – Individual Landmark


A classicizing Art Deco style bank building designed by Halsey, McCormack & Helmer and built in 1932-33 and expanded in 1937-38 by the same firm. Application is to modify a window opening to create new entrance.

Project architect: Cogen Architects, P.C.

HDC finds the proposed plate glass used in the modified window opening to be too stark. Our committee suggests that the oval detail applied above the door be extended to the ground level to add dimension to the glass doors.

LPC determination: Approved

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HDC’s Preservation School | Spring 2017

Posted by on Monday, March 6, 2017 · Leave a Comment 

Come learn the basics and then some about Historic Preservation- AIA Credit Available; 6:00-8:00pm

The Historic Districts Council is pleased to present a series of classes that will illuminate the essentials of historic preservation. Whether you live in a historic district, serve on your local community board or just want to learn about the built environment of your city, these classes will provide you with knowledge and vocabulary about historic preservation practice in New York City. The classes are designed to cover the basics over four sessions to give participants an overall understanding of such topics as land use planning and building types in New York City, and instruct hands-on skills, including how to read architectural drawings and how to best research and photograph buildings.

$15 each or $50 for all 4 classes

Scholarships available

please contact Michelle Arbulu


Wednesday, April 5:     

Preservation 101 & Basics of Land Use Planning in NYC

This introductory course will begin with an overview of the various regulations and funding mechanisms used to preserve historic buildings in New York City. The second part of the session will familiarize participants with the broader umbrella under which preservation falls: land use planning. This section will cover New York City’s governing structure, how zoning works and New York City’s Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP).

(Instructor: Tara Kelly)


Wednesday, April 12:

NYC Architectural Styles & How to Research Buildings

2 AIA Approved LU/HSW Credits/ 2 NY State Licensing Credits

The first part of this session will focus on common architectural styles and building types found in New York City’s historic built environment, and instruct participants on how to identify them by their distinguishing features. The second part of the session will guide participants on tools and strategies for researching buildings in New York City, including various repositories and document types. Learn the basics of how to investigate the origins and stories behind historic properties.

(Instructor: Gregory Dietrich)


$100 for AIA/NYS credit

Wednesday, April 19

Reading Architectural Drawings & Overview of Common NYC Building Materials

Architectural drawings and renderings illustrate the often complicated design and construction plans for proposed building projects. The first part of this session will teach participants how to evaluate such documents in order to understand and analyze an upcoming construction project. The second part of the session will provide an overview of common building materials used in New York City, including terra-cotta, brick, brownstone, concrete and much more. The session will explain how these materials are employed, how to identify them, and “scratch the surface” on their maintenance and conservation.

(Instructors: Dan Allen & Brendan Coburn)


Wednesday, April 26

Architectural Photography & Social Media for Preservation Campaigns

Historic Preservation is first and foremost a visual field. This session will cover two important topics pertaining to marketing and messaging. The first part will provide tips and tricks to improve your photos of buildings and streetscapes in order to maximize their impact. The second part will teach participants how to harness the power of social media to enhance preservation campaigns, build a constituency and sound a call-to-action. Participants will leave with practical strategies to better manage their organizational “brand” and drive traffic to social media profiles and websites.

(Instructors: Lynn Massimo & Cristiana Peña)



$15 each or $50 for all 4 classes

Scholarships available

please contact Barbara Zay at

Classes will take place at:

Neighborhood Preservation Center

232 East 11 Street

New York, NY 10003


Support is provided in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by City Council Members Ben Kallos, Rosie Mendez, Mark Levine, Inez Dickens, Vincent Gentile, Corey Johnson, Stephen Levin, Margaret Chin, Dan Garodnick, and Rafael Salamanca and New York State Assembly Members Deborah Glick, Richard Gottfried, and Daniel O’Donnell.

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About Us

The Historic Districts Council (HDC) is the advocate for all of New York City's historic neighborhoods. HDC is the only organization in New York that works directly with people who care about our city's historic neighborhoods and buildings. We represent a constituency of over 500 local community organizations.

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Historic Districts Council
232 East 11th Street
New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 614-9107
Fax: (212) 614-9127

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