Preservation Groups Push for a Lower East Side Historic District

Posted On Mon, June 22, 2015 By

Posted On Mon, June 22, 2015 By In History, Lower East Side

Of the city’s many rapidly changing neighborhoods, the Lower East Side has for the most part maintained its historic architectural integrity. However, with looming projects like Essex Crossing and a slew of new condos set to rise along the area’s most storied drags, the character of the neighborhood is starting to come under threat. As such, the Lo-Down reports that locals are now banding together in full force to curb development, with two neighborhood preservation groups asking the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to designate a Lower East Side Historic District.

proposed lower east side historic district

According to the Lo-Down, the district plan is the work of Friends of the Lower East Side and the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative. Their “first target” proposal focuses in on an area below Delancey street between Forsyth and Essex Streets, emphasizing the neighborhood as a fixture in American immigration over centuries. In a statement addressed to the Landmarks Preservation Commission the groups wrote:

Manhattan’s Lower East Side is recognized as America’s iconic immigrant neighborhood with unsurpassed architectural, historical and cultural significance to our city, state and nation. Its great variety of age-old tenements, institutional and commercial buildings not only enrich the streets with architecture based on human scale and beautifully crafted ornament, but have given the community and its residents a cohesive and stable environment with a strongly identifiable sense of history and place. The only way to effectively preserve the historic streetscapes of this vital neighborhood is through New York City historic district designation. Therefore, we call upon the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark, without delay, the historically intact areas of the Lower East Side below Houston Street…..Its low-scale tenement buildings reveal the changing character of urban housing for lower income New Yorkers during the mid- nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries. Like no other neighborhood in the city, its intact streetscapes offer a brick-and-mortar lesson in both the historical plight of the immigrant poor and society’s response to those horrid conditions.

As it stands, the Lower East Side is listed as a historic place on the state and national registers, but the designation fails to offer any protection to the area’s many buildings. The two groups argue that a broader designation protecting the neighborhood needs to be assigned as “it is only in context with their neighboring tenement buildings that the district tells the full story of immigrant life on the LES.”

The request was formally submitted to the LPC June 1st. So far, the two groups have drummed up support from 18 other organizations and 500 signatures.

[Via The Lo-Down]

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Neighborhoods : Lower East Side

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