Designation Testimony

[email protected]: Designation Testimony: Bay Ridge Parkway/Doctors’ Row Historic District

Statement of the Historic Districts Council
Designation Hearing
May 14, 2019

Item 1

LP – 2631

BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN

BAY RIDGE PARKWAY/DOCTORS’ ROW HISTORIC DISTRICT

The Historic Districts Council enthusiastically supports the designation of the Bay Ridge Parkway/Doctors’ Row Historic District on Bay Ridge Parkway, between Fourth and Fifth Avenues in Brooklyn. 

HDC has had the pleasure of working with the property owners of the Bay Ridge Parkway 400 Block Association since the Fall of 2016 in their efforts to preserve their block. Block residents have noted that during recent years, the aesthetic appeal of Doctors’ Row has been preserved due to neighbor-to-neighbor contact, including the prevention of a cornice removal by a new owner and the retention of original doors, which were initially discarded, only to be restored by another neighbor. These types of interventions are the result of deep care and pride for the block, as well as sheer luck. To ensure the continued beauty of the facades of the buildings, the block association decided to pursue landmarking and the benefits of its regulations to codify their hard work.

“Doctors’ Row” has long been considered a stand-out enclave in Bay Ridge because of the high quality craftsmanship and homogeneity of its limestone houses and also because of its identity as a destination of local medical offices. The houses were constructed between 1906-1913 and have survived remarkably intact, appearing much the same as they did in historic real estate ads found in the Brooklyn Eagle from the early twentieth century. Original stonework carvings, stained glass, woodwork and ironwork adorn the facades.

While much of Bay Ridge’s blocks have survived thanks to a Special Zoning District, zoning alone does not regulate aesthetic changes to property, and much of southern Brooklyn’s architectural patrimony is under assault from tear-downs, inappropriate and non-contextual development, and irreversible alterations to historic fabric. What’s more, Bay Ridge does not possess any historic districts, and we are thrilled that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has made this block a priority and hopefully will designate what will be Bay Ridge’s first ever historic district. Without historic district designation, there is no guarantee that this block will retain its beauty for another century and we urge LPC to vote in the very near future to designate this beautiful block.

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