Gershwin medallion on Riverside Drive, photos courtesy of Melissa Stutts for the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center
What do Jimmy Cagney, the actor Alfred M. Butts, the man who invented Scrabble, and feminist champion Bella Abzug all have in common? They, along with over 100 other hometown greats, are all Notable New Yorkers. Since 1995, the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center has been installing cultural medallions throughout the five boroughs to celebrate New Yorkers whose contributions to our collective cultural life have enriched the city, the nation, and the world. Now, in addition to their interactive map HLPC has launched a new book, Notable New Yorkers: The HLPC Cultural Medallion Program, that collects all those plaques in one place.
A preview from the book
The HLPC commissioned award-winning designer Massimo Vignelli to design the medallion, which was then approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission and NYC Art Commission. Over the years, they’ve also created new programs such as the brown street signs that signify historic districts, the Street Sign program that gives secondary street names based on notable New Yorkers who lived there, and the historic district maps that hang from street posts.
The new volume includes photos and descriptions of all 116 Notable New Yorkers that the HLPC has honored over the past 23 years, including such luminaries as George and Ira Gershwin (the program’s very first honorees), Richard Wright, Washington Irving, and Ada Louise Huxtable. The book also situates the history of the Cultural Medallion program within the context of New York’s wider historic preservation movement.