A New York Minute With Tribeca Gallery Owner and Preservationist Hal Bromm

May 1, 2016

6sqft’s new mini-series A New York Minute features influential New Yorkers answering spitfire (and sometimes very random) questions about their life in the big city. Want to nominate yourself or someone you know? Get in touch!

Hal Bromm landed in Tribeca in the early ’70s. He started out working for an architecture firm, but eventually returned to his fine art roots, opening the neighborhood’s first contemporary art gallery. It was here in 1981 that Keith Haring had his first solo exhibition, an event that’s often credited with his rise to fame. In the ’80s, Hal also became involved in historic preservation, successfully advocating for the designation of four Tribeca historic districts and helping to form the Tribeca Trust. The Hal Bromm Gallery is still operating on West Broadway and Chambers Street and now that the hype surrounding its 40th anniversary exhibition has subsided, 6sqft had the chance to chat with Hal about his love for the city past and present.

6sqft: Fill in the blank. I knew I was a New Yorker when ______.
Hal: I lived in London.

6sqft: If you could invest in any part of the city, where would it be?
Hal: The Financial District. It’s the oldest part of the city, where residential development began, and is now enjoying a renaissance sparked by its proximity to Tribeca. New hotels, restaurants, shops and energy make the area very appealing, but still undervalued compared to other trendy neighborhoods. The harbor views are stunning, subway access is terrific, and access to the riverfront parks is enticing.

6sqft: What part of the city have you not spent much time in but would like to?
Hal: Staten Island intrigues me as a part of the city few people really know. While the ferry rides are famous, how many of us really know neighborhoods like Rosebank or Tottenville? The Alice Austen House in Rosebank is a magical historic house museum and Tottenville a richly historic neighborhood. While Brooklyn’s many wonderful neighborhoods now seem to buzz with recognition, Staten Island’s treasures don’t seem well publicized.

6sqft: How do you take your bagel?
Hal: Toasted with cream cheese.

6sqft: Who are three people making NYC a better place?
Hal: There are too many devoted and talented people who have worked to make New York a better place. It has been an honor to know and work with many: Halina Rosenthal, who was an early supporter of our efforts to save the old Washington Market neighborhood (now known as Tribeca); Margot Gayle, who was instrumental in saving Soho’s Cast Iron architecture from Robert Moses’ Broome Street Expressway; Carole DeSaram, a friend and neighbor who created the Tribeca Community Association, a grass roots community group who – among many other accomplishments – fought to keep a parole board office out of Duane Park; Tony Wood, Eric Allison and Franny Eberhart, early leaders of the Historic Districts Council; Michael Adams, Harlem’s best advocate whose dedication and knowledge of that great neighborhood’s history has focused attention on famously ignored cultural and historic landmarks; Arlene Simon, whose Landmarks West! organization has inspired wanna-be historic communities throughout the city; Connie Baldwin, a gifted graphic artist whose book design for The Texture of Tribeca has justly won awards; Andrew Dolkart whose preservation work and teaching is legend; Barbaralee Diamondstein Speilvogel, the talented lady whose NYC Landmarks Preservation Foundation created signage identifying NYC historic districts; and Lynn Ellsworth, who founded the Tribeca Trust to protect a neighborhood threatened by rapacious developers whose over-scaled projects have dwarfed the area’s historic architecture and character.



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