ALERT: Far West Village HD's designated (from GVSHP)
History was made this morning when landmark protections that GVSHP and countless others fought to extend to the Far West Village were unanimously approved by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The LPC approved an expansion three blocks west of the existing Greenwich Village Historic District, and the creation of a new Weehawken Street Historic District, covering a total of five blocks and about sixty buildings. Historic buildings in this area will now be protected from demolition or inappropriate alteration.
Last year, following an intensive campaign led by GVSHP calling for zoning and landmark protections for the Far West Village, the City agreed to substantially downzone the area (i.e. reduce the size and height of allowable new development) and to extend landmark protections to several blocks and several individual buildings in the area. The downzoning was enacted last October, and today’s historic district designations deliver most, but not all, of the landmark protections promised by the City for the area; eight individual sites the City promised to landmark are yet to be considered. However, today’s designation did include three buildings GVSHP had fought to have added into the districts – 139 Charles Street, 143 Charles Street/687 Washington Street, and 177 Christopher Street. For a map of the designated districts and related actions, see www.gvshp.org/FWVmap.htm; for pictures of today’s hearing and designation, see www.gvshp.org/FWV.htm.
Today’s historic vote came just a few days after the death of Jane Jacobs and a few days before what would have been her 90th birthday on May 4th. Going at least as far back as 1963, Jane fought to preserve the Far West Village, urging it be included in the Greenwich Village Historic District being contemplated at the time (see www.gvshp.org/documents/VanDerpool.pdf). Unfortunately, when the Greenwich Village Historic District was designated in 1969, much of the Far West Village was excluded, though neighborhood activists and preservationists consistently pushed to have the area landmarked. Today’s vote marks the first expansion of the Greenwich Village Historic District since its designation in 1969. The only other expansion of historic district protections in Greenwich Village since 1969 was the 2003 designation of the Gansevoort Market Historic District in the meatpacking district, a designation proposed and fought for by GVSHP.
While not including all areas GVSHP had fought to have landmarked, today’s historic district designations, combined with the still-promised designation of six individual landmarks, protects an incredible cross-section of the Far West Village’s unique residential, industrial, maritime, and civic architecture. The districts contain some wonderful early 19th century brick Federal-style rowhouses and two rare wooden houses, several early 19th and 20th century stables, a surviving former sailor’s hotel, some grand Romanesque-style warehouses, an early New York City police station and public school, and an unusual bohemian-style church. For pictures and more information, see www.gvshp.org/block630.htm, www.gvshp.org/block631.htm, www.gvshp.org/block632.htm, www.gvshp.org/block636a.htm and www.gvshp.org/fwvlpcsub904.html.
Today’s victory could not have been possible without the support and participation of literally thousands of people over the years. However, GVSHP would like to extend a special thank you to the Greenwich Village Community Task Force, with whom we worked closely on this landmark and downzoning proposal, and the Federation to Preserve the Greenwich Village Waterfront and Great Port. We would also like to thank the Westbeth Artists Residents Council, the Historic Districts Council, the NY Landmarks Conservancy, and the Municipal Art Society, who were strong supporters of the effort. We would also like to extend special thank you’s to City Council Speaker Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Stringer, and State Senator Duane, all of whom were strong supporters of the proposed landmark designations. Countless Community Board members, block association chairs, building captains, and average citizens also worked incredibly hard to help make this victory possible.
GVSHP wants to thank the Landmarks Preservation Commission for this historic vote, but also to urge them to keep the remainder of their promise for the eight additional individual landmark designations in the neighborhood.
HOW TO HELP:
· WRITE TO THE LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION thanking them for their vote and urging them to fulfill the rest of their public promise for landmark designations in the Far West Village as soon as possible. Go to www.gvshp.org/FWVletters.htm for a sample letter you can use and contact information.