Landmarks @ 50 Honoring Our Past Imagining Our Future

Historic District Council

2015 Annual Preservation Conference Series

Landmarks at 50: Honoring Our Past, Imagining Our Future

March 2015

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The 2015 Preservation Conference Series celebrates the milestone 50th anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law and imagines what preservation might look like in the future. Since 1965, preservation activities have had a tremendous positive effect on New York City showing that preservation is neither weepy nostalgia nor dusty museums.  Preservation is active work, which engages diverse communities across the city and both reflects and informs New York’s cultural, political, and economic milieu. Innumerable successes have been won in the last 50 years, but there is still great work to be done.

This year’s Conference will consist of a keynote with an opening reception and three panels presented during the month of March. The opening evening will also include the Citywide Preservation Fair, where local advocates working on specific preservation campaigns will have the opportunity to present their efforts in a publically engaging way.  The Conference Panels, each presented in a different borough, will feature preservationists, historians, advocates, and innovators discussing past efforts, current issues, and future concerns. By presenting the panels in different venues throughout the month, the 2015 Conference Series will connect with a wider and more diverse audience in this landmark anniversary year.


Keynote and Opening Reception

March 6, 2015 6:30 pm

The Diana Center at Barnard College

3009 Broadway at 118th Street

Jake-Dobkin Keynote Speaker: Jake Dobkin, co-founder and publisher of Gothamist

Today’s Youth and the Future of Landmarks

Jake Dobkin is a lifelong New Yorker  and the publisher of Gothamist, a city-centric blog that focuses on news, events, food, culture, and other local coverage. He writes the popular “Ask a Native New Yorker” feature, where he offers useful advice on neighborhoods, transit, culture, and the ever-important work of interacting with your fellow New Yorkers on a daily basis. He lives in Park Slope with his wife, two kids, and parents.


Plus the Preservation Fair!

2015 Conference Keynote and Opening Reception


Conference Panels


5ptz2Barack Obama Slept Here: Recognizing Today’s Sites of Cultural Significance

March 11, 6:30PM

Eldridge Street Synagogue

12 Eldridge Street

Lower East Side

More than simply celebrating architectural merit, New York City’s cultural landmarks proudly declare that History Happened Here! Since the signing of the Landmarks Law, many buildings, both individually and as part of historic districts, have been recognized and protected for their cultural significance to the city. These sites, along with those that are still not officially recognized, speak to the vast history of nation-building, housing, social welfare, the arts, entertainment, and all the innumerable aspects of life which New Yorkers have pursued since the city’s founding. Author David Freeland will discuss those cultural sites which have been officially designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission since 1965. The panelists, including Marie Flageul of 5Pointz, historian Eric K. Washington and Jay Shockley, former senior historian, Research Department, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, will then take on the conversation of what does recognition and preservation of these places look like moving forward. In an increasingly diversifying world, how do we best acknowledge and protect the significant places that speak to recently-arrived communities, historically-marginalized groups, and emerging cultural movements?

2015 Conference Panel- Barack Obama Slept Here


eureka garage (3)Tomorrow’s Yesterdays: Historic Districts of the Future

March 18, 6:30 PM

ShapeShifter Lab

18 Whitwell Place


When Brooklyn Heights was designated the very first New York City historic district in 1965, the architectural styles found there exemplified the types of buildings that the Landmark Preservation Commission saw as worthy of protection. While protecting classic federals and grand rowhouses has never gone out of style, over the past 50 years, the question of what types of buildings can be landmarked has slowly been re-examined. Beginning in 1973 with the designation of the SoHo Cast-Iron District, acceptance has slowly warmed to the potential diversity of historic districts, including with vernacular or industrial buildings. This panel will include a presentation of the evolution of historic districts by architectural historian Francis Morrone, before considering the issues of the present and future.  Panelist, including urban planner Paul Graziano, Gowanus advocate Marlene Donnelly and Ward Dennis,  Columbia professor and Brooklyn Community Board 1 member, will discuss potential historic districts, technological and bureaucratic  strategies  for looking ahead, and questions such as Can Gowanus ever be designated? and Is there a place for a historic district in suburban Queens?

2015 Conference Panel-Yesterday’s Tomorrows: The Future of Historic Districts



Cocktails at the Post Office: Adaptive Reuse of Public Institutions

March 25, 6:30 PM


22-25 Jackson Avenue

Long Island City

New York City possesses a treasure trove of historic institutional buildings of grand character, which add immeasurably to our neighborhoods throughout the boroughs. Unfortunately, as schools, hospitals, libraries, police stations, post offices, and military facilities age, require modernization, or close, hard questions are raised about the nextlives of these local landmarks.  After looking at the history of these buildings and early examples of how some have been preserved and repurposed successfully, the discussion will focus on current and future projects that aim to reinvent these spaces to maintain not only their iconic and landmark facades, but also their valued place as a neighborhood anchors. Dr. Jeffrey Kroessler, HDC board member and historian will begin the panel with a look at the last 50 years of preservation and reuse before the discussion of the present and future is considered by panelists Joseph Coppola, principal at Dattner Architects, Naomi Hersson-Ringskog , Executive Director of No Longer Empty and Pratt Institute Planning and Placemaking Professor David Burney. (photo credit: Matt Green)

2015 Conference Panel-Cocktails at the Post Office: Adaptive Reuse and Public Institutions

 Conference Tours

  1. Brooklyn Army Terminal: A Public Institution Transformed-Saturday, March 7, 2015, 12PM
  2. East Harlem Histories- Saturday, March 14, 215, 1PM
  3. Village Institutions-Saturday, March 21, 2015 11AM
  4. Classical Culture at Carnegie Hall-Saturday, March 28, 2015 11AM
  5. DUMBO and Fulton Ferry-Saturday, April 11, 2015, 11AM
  6. Preserving West Chelsea-Saturday April 18, 2015 11AM

For more information and to register for the tours click here 


The title “Landmarks at 50: Honoring Our Past, Imagining Our Future” was  created by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Chair of the NYC Landmarks 50 Alliance, and is used with permission.
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 with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.  Additional support is provided by City Councilmembers Margaret Chin,  Inez Dickens, Matthieu Eugene, Daniel Garodnick, Vincent Gentile, Corey Johnson, Ben Kallos, Stephen Levin, Mark Levine, and Rosie Mendez


Landmarks 50