HDC mourns the death of fierce preservation and civic advocate Beverly Moss Spatt, PhD, AICP. Beverly was a leader in the New York City preservation and planning communities for more than 50 years. She served as a member of the Historic Districts Council’s Boards of Directors and Advisers for more than two decades and was also an active member of HDC’s Legal Committee. During that time she advised HDC in its many endeavors, initiatives, and lawsuits and in 2016 received HDC’s Mickey Murphy Lifetime Achievement Award. Among the words HDC board members used when describing Beverly, include “irrepressible, riveting, forceful, courageous, focused, and ‘more knowledgeable than any of the lawyers in the room.’”
In her time, Beverly provided invaluable expertise about the landmarks process as well as a deep knowledge of planning. In her formal roles, she served on the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission from 1974 to 1982, and was chair of the Commission from 1974 to 1978. During her time as Chair, she persuaded the Mayor to continue fighting to preserve Grand Central Terminal against the owners’ plans; hired Dorothy Marie Miner as the LPC’s first general counsel; expanded landmark designations throughout the five boroughs; created numerous 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 which is still bearing fruit today.
She also served on the New York City Planning Commission from 1965 to 1970. She wrote the Dissenting Opinion to the proposed 1969 “Plan for New York City”, referring to the proposal as “a letter to Santa” which lacked concrete suggestions and was, at best, ineffectual and, at worst, discriminatory towards lower-income and minority populations. The Plan was never adopted.
When Beverly became a new member of the City Planning Commission she was highlighted as a “Woman in the News” in the Times:
“From practically babyhood”, she said, “we talked — I talked – politics, civic affairs and community business. It was like the breath of life to our family, and as I grew older, I just naturally became active in various organizations.”
“I know we’re having an exodus from the city,” she said with one of those determined nods of her head that are one of her chief mannerisms. “But I’m an optimist. I think people really want to stay in the city and I am convinced that with the help of our citizens we will find the resources necessary to meet their needs.”
To read her full obituary in The New York Times, click here: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/17/nyregion/beverly-moss-spatt-dead.html