Magnolia Grandiflora via Wiki Commons (L); Weeping Beech Tree via NY State Archives (R)
Last week we looked at the city’s oldest and tallest tree in Alley Pond, Queens, which got us thinking about one of the questions at the Preservation Trivia night we recently attended. What are the only two living things in NYC to have ever been landmarked? We’ll admit, we were stumped. We guessed Peter Stuyvesant’s pear tree and the World Trade Center Survivor Tree, which were both wrong. But they are trees: the Weeping Beech Tree in Flushing, Queens and the Magnolia Grandiflora in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. And to make it even more exclusive, only the latter still survives; the Beech Tree died and was cut down in 1999.
Find out the history of how these landmarks came to be
- A new book called Ella reimagines the classic Eloise tale with the main character as a hipster living in a Williamsburg hotel. [Gothamist]
- To mark the 50th anniversary of the NYC landmarks law, here’s a list of the city’s first 38 landmarks. [Curbed]
- Do you have a weird affinity for the smell of cut grass? Or how about scotch tape or plastic toys? There’s a new candle series to satisfy your unconventional nose. [Fast Co. Design]
- The city’s first commercial-scale wind turbine in Sunset Park has been a success since opening in December. [NY Times]
- Ten places to honor Martin Luther King Jr. in NYC . [Untapped]
- In case you need to be reminded not to swim in the city, here’s a map of NYC’s most poop-filled waterways. [CityLab]
Images: Ella (L); Wind turbine via Arlo Bates via photopin cc (R)
Photo © Cameron Baylock
On the heels of the recent landmarks controversy, Queens’ hottest new neighborhood just got its fourth landmarked historic district, the Central Ridgewood Historic District. The 40-block, 990-building area joins Ridgewood’s three existing historic districts, Ridgewood North, Ridgewood South, and Stockholm Street.
The district includes buildings along Madison Street and Catalpa Avenue, as well as others, which were recognized by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for exemplifying working class housing. Most of the Renaissance Revival brick row houses were built by German immigrants between 1906 and World War I.
More on Ridgewood’s newest historic district
Green-Wood Cemetery via wallyg via photopin cc
Major controversy ensued earlier this week between preservationists and city officials when the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) released a proposal to de-calendar 94 historic sites and two historic districts. The plan would have left these locations, including Long Island City’s Pepsi sign, Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman building, and Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, completely unprotected and ripe for alterations or even demolition. Opponents of the plan can breathe a sigh of relief, though, as the LPC has withdrawn its controversial proposal.
Many sites on the list have been there for up to 50 years, but LPC Chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan assured the public that they would be dealt with sooner rather than later. “We remain committed to making the Landmarks Commission more effective and responsive in its work, and clearing a backlog of items,” she said in a statement.
[Via NY Times]
The currently calendared Pepsi sign in Long Island City via gigi_nyc via photopin cc
Just a month before the year-long celebration of the landmarks law’s 50th anniversary is set to commence, the preservation community was dealt what is perhaps its biggest blow since the demolition of Penn Station. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission revealed in its public review meeting last Wednesday that it would de-calendar 95 historic sites and two historic districts throughout the five boroughs, removing the historic buildings and spaces from the landmarking to-do list and leaving them completely unprotected.
Proponents of the plan argue that many places on the list have been there for 50 years, and their removal would free up the LPC’s backlog. Preservationists dismiss this claim, citing that the fact that the historic sites have sat unlandmarked for so long is all the more reason this out-of-nowhere proposal is bad public policy. Some of the more high-profile locations under consideration include Long Island City’s Pepsi sign, Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman building, and Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
More on the de-calendaring and what it means
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
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission held a hearing today on a proposal by S.L. Green to build a huge tower on the northwest corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and 42nd Street directly across from Grand Central Terminal. The proposal before the commission was an application for a “certificate of appropriateness” for a transfer of air rights from the former Bowery Savings Bank Building at 110 East 42nd Street between Park and Lexington Avenues.
The developers of S.L. Green made their moves by wooing Landmarks with renderings of Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed tower which would be 1,350 feet tall not counting a 100-foot-high spire—this is significantly higher than the Chrysler Building on the northeast corner of Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street and higher than all the supertalls in construction or planned for 57th Street.
Reactions from the hearing this way
What’s a little more glass and metal in a town overrun by supertalls, right? After getting shot down by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for their design of a two-story, mixed-use glass crown to top the Pastis Building in the Meatpacking District, BKSK Architects went back to the drawing board only to emerge with a new idea that’s won the LPC’s blessing. Set to top the low-rise brick building at 9–19 9th Avenue, the redesign is a somewhat more subdued iteration that uses the same materials and form, but with much less glass.
See the before and after here