Plan of New York map courtesy of Curriculum Concepts International
In 1626, the Dutch West India Company imported 11 African slaves to New Amsterdam, beginning New York’s 200 year-period of slavery. One man in this group, Paolo d’Angola, would become the city’s first non-Native settler of Greenwich Village. As the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) discovered, and added to their Civil Rights and Social Justice Map, as a recently freed slave, d’Angola was granted land around today’s Washington Square Park for a farm. While this seems like a generous gesture from a slave owner, d’Angola’s land actually served as an intermediary spot between the European colonists and the American Indians, who sometimes raided settlements. This area, in addition to Chinatown, Little Italy, and SoHo, was known as the “Land of the Blacks.”
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Photo courtesy of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
Deemed by historians as the “single most important document in New York City’s development,” the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, which planned Manhattan’s famous grid system, turns 204 years old this month. As the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation tells us, the chief surveyor of the plan, John Randel Jr., and city officials signed the final contract on March 22, 1811. The plan, completed at the end of the 19th century, produced 11 major avenues and 155 cross-town streets still used today.
Learn more here
In honor of Women’s History Month, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has added more notable female figures to their Civil Rights and Social Justice Map. You can now explore sites such as the now-demolished building where Hellen Keller wrote for “The Masses,” learn more about Mine Okubo’s struggle to expose the cruelty of Japanese internment camps through her artwork kept in the East Village, and visit the home of Clara Lemlich, a feminist who demanded thousands of shirtwaist factory workers go on strike to demand better working conditions and higher wages.
See the interactive map here
With a new president entering the White House this month, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air, particularly when it comes to the rights of minority groups in the U.S. In light of these tumultuous times, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) has created an interactive map that highlights, and celebrates, the fight for social justice that’s taken place in and around the East, West and Greenwich Villages. The map tool covers more than 100 locations, each signifying a site where African Americans, women, immigrants, Latinos and the LGBT community have fought for equality and representation over the centuries.
explore the map here
The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s plans to add 10 additional blocks to the South Village Historic District are at the top of the agenda for city preservationist groups. As Crains reports, the addition of the historic district is also a condition for a City Council vote in support of the St. John’s Center development, a 1.7 million-square-foot, mixed-use project proposed for 550 Washington Street across the street from Pier 40 in Hudson River Park. That project requires the council’s approval, and City Councilman Corey Johnson said in August that he’d vote for the project, proposed by developers Westbrook Partners and Atlas Capital Group, if the addition of the third and final phase of the historic district, currently bordered by Sixth Avenue, West Fourth Street, LaGuardia Place and Houston Street, goes forward. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), among others, has pushed for the landmarking of what would be the city’s first tenement-based historic district.
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Excavation is nearly complete at 54 MacDougal Street, a ground-up, six-story condominium being developed by Valyrian Capital and Ajax Partners. Up until 2013, a humble three-story townhouse stood at the 2,500-square-foot lot for nearly 200 years, dating its creation to around 1820 when it was built on land formerly owned by Aaron Burr.
The building lot is within a once working-class and immigrant neighborhood referred to by some as the South Village. Unlike large swaths of Greenwich Village to the north and cast iron sections of Soho to the west, the motley mixture of low-rise, pre-war buildings for years lacked landmark protections. Since 2006, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) has urged the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate a 35-block stretch of the neighborhood as an historic district, making it the city’s first tenement-based landmarked district. To date, two of the three phases of the district have been designated.
More details ahead
, Tue, September 15, 2015
Historic brownstones in Brooklyn Heights via City Realty
The war wages on between the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and citywide preservationists. Many thought the contention between the groups over whether or not historic districts lessen affordable housing was a personal sentiment of former REBNY president Steven Spinola. But his successor John Banks has released a new report that claims landmarking doesn’t protect affordable housing.
The report looks at the number of rent-stabilized units in landmarked and non-landmarked districts between 2007 and 2014, finding that “citywide, landmarked properties lost rent stabilized units (-22.5%) at a much higher rate (-5.1%) than non-landmarked properties.” Of course preservationists quickly fired back. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) calls the study “bogus” and says it does nothing to address how many units would have been lost had these areas not been landmarked.
More on the report
There’s been a lot of controversy around preservation in New York City as of late, and through it all, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) seems to always make its voice heard. From debunking myths about affordable housing and historic districts to advocating for the Village’s next great landmark, GVSHP remains on the front lines of the field.
Founded in 1980 to preserve the architectural heritage and cultural history of the Village, the organization now includes the East Village, South Village, Far West Village, Noho, and Meatpacking District in its purview. Part of the reason for GVSHP’s expansion stems from the tireless efforts of its longtime Executive Director, Andrew Berman. Since 2002, he has overseen the research, educational programming, and advocacy of one of the city’s leading preservation nonprofits. We recently sat down with Andrew to learn more about his views on the current state of preservation in the city and where he hopes to take GVSHP in the future.
Read our full interview here
It’s not always as easy as one might think to successfully advocate for the landmark designation of an historic building in New York, especially when that building’s owner is not on board with preservation efforts.
According to the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), more than 20 historically significant buildings (including those designed by renowned architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Morris Lapidus) have been heavily altered or altogether demolished over the past 12 years after city officials gave word to owners that their buildings were under consideration for landmarking. This comes from a new report that GVSHP commissioned, which examines the Bloomberg administration’s actions regarding the notification given to developers and owners that the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) was looking at their properties, allowing alteration and demolition permits to slip through before any historic protections were granted.
We take a closer look at this preservation predicament