2016 Grassroots Awards and Preservation Party Press Release


May 2016

Contact: Simeon Bankoff; Executive Director

212-614-9107 ext. 12


NEW YORK, NY – The Historic Districts Council (HDC) will present its annual Grassroots Preservation Awards to five organizations and individuals on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at Saint Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, 131 East 10th Street, New York, NY 10003.

This year’s awardees include:

  • The Art Deco Society of New York (Grassroots Award)
  • The Committee to Save the New York Public Library (CSNYPL), Citizens Defending Libraries (CDL) and the Library Lovers League (LLL) (Grassroots Award)
  • New Yorkers for a Human-Scale City (Grassroots Award)
  • New York City Council Member Ben Kallos (Friend in High Places Award)
  • Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York (Friend in the Media Award)
  • Beverly Moss Spatt, PhD, AICP (Mickey Murphy Lifetime Achievement Award)

Every year, HDC, the citywide advocate for New York’s historic neighborhoods, honors and celebrates the activists and groups who work to preserve New York City’s historic neighborhoods.

“These advocates are the foundation of the preservation movement and their efforts benefit everyone who lives, works or visits New York City,” said Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of HDC. “It’s an honor and pleasure to be able to shine the spotlight on these civic and neighborhood leaders.”

About the 2016 Grassroots Awardees:

The Art Deco Society of New York (ADSNY) (Roberta Nusim, President) was founded in 1980 to celebrate and preserve the city’s rich Art Deco Heritage. Since becoming President in 2013, Roberta Nusim has focused on initiatives that reflect the organization’s founding principle: to ensure the protection of New York’s Art Deco treasures throughout the five boroughs for future generations through preservation and education. ADSNY has introduced the New York Art Deco Registry and Map, a reference tool of the city’s Art Deco buildings, and launched Documenting Deco, a program that engages middle- and high-school students with the architecture in their neighborhoods.

The Committee to Save the New York Public Library (CSNYPL), Citizens Defending Libraries (CDL) and the Library Lovers League (LLL) each formed to fight recent development plans which threatened New York City’s libraries. In 2011, the New York Public Library announced the Central Library Plan to sell the Mid-Manhattan and the Science, Industry and Business Libraries and demolish the historic research stacks in the 42nd Street Library. CSNYPL helped put faces and voices to the countless people who were staunchly against the plan, which was abandoned in 2014, thanks in large part to the group’s advocacy efforts. In addition to opposing the Central Library Plan, the CDL has fought the proposed redevelopment and loss of many historic libraries around the city, including the Pacific, Red Hook and Sunset Park Branches in Brooklyn, through protests, outreach and petitions. CDL also launched a Citizens Audit and Investigation into the library sales and shrinkages to raise awareness and funds for the city’s libraries. The LLL is a loose assemblage of longtime organizers, media experts and practitioners who have contributed to the successful campaigns to save the Pacific Branch Library in Brooklyn from demolition, and the NY Public Library’s proposed Central Library Plan.

New Yorkers for a Human-Scale City (Lynn Ellsworth and Mario Messina, co-founders) was founded in 2015 as a coalition and alliance of community organizations and civic groups concerned with tenants’ rights, historic preservation, parks and public space management across all five boroughs. The coalition was formed in reaction to the massive over-development occurring around the city with no regard to current neighborhood population, historic fabric or open space. The coalition currently has over 80 co-sponsors who have joined together as one voice in support of preserving our city.

Friend in the Media Award: Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York (represented by Lee Greenfeld) chronicles the changing landscape of New York City, everything from the closure of small businesses to hyper-gentrification. The popular blog was described by The New York Times as “a digital obituary column for the various mom-and-pop concerns that have fallen prey to the city’s endless search for higher rents.” Jeremiah Moss is the blog’s openly pseudonymous author and the founder of the grassroots preservation group #SaveNYC. His writing on the city has appeared in The New York Times, Playboy, The New Yorker and The Paris Review online. Currently, he writes editorials for The New York Daily News and is at work on a book about hyper-gentrification and the soul of New York City for HarperCollins publishers.

Friend in High Places Award: City Council Member Ben Kallos grew up on the Upper East Side and is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, SUNY Albany and SUNY Buffalo Law School. He represents Manhattan’s Fifth District, succeeding former Grassroots Award winner Council Member Jessica Lappin. Mr. Kallos has been a great friend to the preservation community by supporting, campaigning and funding initiatives both citywide and closer to home. In 2015, he stood with preservation and community groups in strongly opposing Intro 775, a bill that would have weakened the Landmarks Law by placing a moratorium on LPC’s ability to designate historic properties. The bill was met with extreme disapproval from dozens of community groups, but remains officially under consideration by the City Council. More recently, he joined Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Community Boards 6, 8 and 11 to improve the City’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposals.

Mickey Murphy Lifetime Achievement Award: Beverly Moss Spatt, PhD, AICP has been a leader in the New York City planning and preservation communities for over 50 years. She served as a City Planning Commissioner from 1966 – 1970 and wrote the Dissenting Opinion to the proposed but never adopted 1969 “Plan for New York City”. Dr. Spatt served on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission from 1974 – 1982, and was its Chair from 1974 – 1978, during which time she continued the fight to preserve Grand Central Terminal and the Landmarks Law; hired Dorothy Miner as the LPC’s first general counsel; expanded designations throughout the five boroughs; created scholarship programs to encourage students and young people to become involved with preservation; and brought in federal funds to survey the entire city for potential historic districts – an effort that continues to bear fruit today. A life-long resident of Brooklyn and graduate of Brown University, Dr. Spatt holds a Master’s and Doctorate in Urban Planning from New York University. She has taught planning, preservation and public policy at Barnard College and serves on the boards of variety of community and philanthropic organizations, from the League of Women Voters to the Historic Districts Council. She continues to be an active writer and commenter on civic and planning issues.

About the Event:

The event is open to the public at a cost of $30 ($20 for Friends of HDC). Community sponsorships for the event are also available. To purchase sponsorships, please call 212-614-9107 or e-mail [email protected]. Individual tickets will be sold at the door. The event begins at 6:00pm, followed by a reception. For more information, go to www.hdc.org or call 212-614-9107.

About the Historic Districts Council:

The Historic Districts Council (HDC) is New York’s only citywide grassroots advocate for historic buildings and neighborhoods. Since 1970, HDC has been committed to preserving New York’s rich architectural and historical heritage, defending the integrity of the New York Landmarks Law and furthering the preservation ethic.