Designation Testimony

[email protected]: Designation Testimony – Manida Street Historic District, Bronx

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Proposed Manida Street Historic District

BOROUGH OF THE BRONX

The Historic Districts Council is the citywide advocate for New York’s historic buildings and neighborhoods. As may be deduced by our name, HDC institutionally is a strong proponent for the designation of historic districts. We are especially pleased to be supporting the designation of the proposed Manida Street Historic District, which is remarkable for a number of reasons notwithstanding the meritorious nature of this architectural assemblage.
With this designation, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will be creating the 150th historic district (including extensions) in New York City. Using the same criteria, only thirteen years ago – almost to the day – the LPC designated the 100th historic district, Manhattan Avenue. By that accounting, this shows remarkable progress in pursuing the commission’s mission to protect and preserve our city’s remarkable architectural and cultural history, especially if one considers that the LPC designated the 50th historic district, the New York Farm Colony – Seaview Hospital HD on March 26, 1985, 22 years before. Mathematically, that means that the Landmarks Commission has accelerated the pace of historic district designations; achieving an equal number of designations in only 60% of the time. At this rate, we could be looking forward to the 200th historic district being designated in 2028, which is an ambitious and very worthwhile goal.

This is also the first historic district designation being deliberated upon remotely, outside of the Landmarks Commission’s offices, or at least the first one in a very long time. Not only does deliberating on a potential designation at this time reinforce the importance of the Landmarks Commission’s function to New York City, it also suggests that in the future, the Commission might be able to hold hearings closer to areas being considered. This would be a good way to engage residents and local stakeholders in the LPC’s public process and as much as we look forward to standing in the same room as the Commissioners to deliver testimony, this proves that the hearing doesn’t need to take place in the Municipal Building.

Finally, this proposed historic district is the 13th in The Bronx! New York’s northernmost borough has long been underserved by many municipal resources, including landmark designations. HDC is pleased that the Landmarks Commission is taking steps to remedy this and we strongly encourage more efforts in that direction. Over the past few years, through our ongoing Six to Celebrate program, we have been encouraging and helping to organize neighborhood-based community efforts throughout the borough, from Woodlawn in the north to Hunt’s Point in the South. This year, we have helped bring together community activists to form The Bronx Borough Landmarks Preservation Committee, to better educate the public about the remarkable history and resources of The Bronx and to advocate for their preservation. We are proud to be working with the committee to identify a number of sites for the LPC’s consideration and look forward to submitting that list soon.

Earlier this year, the first meeting of the committee was held in the offices of the Point, at the foot of this proposed historic district. Manida Street has been a stand-out block in this part of The Bronx for over 100 years. Developed in anticipation of rapid transit to the city center, these handsome houses were home to generations of New Yorkers looking to settle down and build a community. In researching this proposal, we’ve heard many tales of multiple generations of families growing up on Manida Street. It seems that despite the vicissitudes of the area over the course of the 20th century, Manida Street has always had a strong community attraction, starting with its inception and continuing on through the arrival of young professionals, artists, and families 30 years ago when New York was just beginning to recover from the economic upheavals of the 1980’s. The solid architectural bones of the street, its handsome urban ensemble and the decades of house-proud stewardship continue to communicate its intrinsic worth to new generations of Bronxites. It’s a classic New York story and this is a classic New York block The Historic Districts Councils salutes the community for all its work in keeping places like this block alive and vital, and thanks the Landmarks Preservation Commission for recognizing the community’s commitment and supporting their efforts. We look forward to continuing to celebrate and protect more of The Bronx’s remarkable history and places.

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