Concerted efforts to preserve the city’s buildings are a relatively new phenomenon; it wasn’t until 50 years ago that the NYC Landmarks Law was enacted, providing protection for the city’s most storied structures. While many of us feel that New York wouldn’t be half of what it is today if developers were allowed free range of our urbanscape, a video by ReasonTV contends that the Landmarks Act is actually keeping the city from its true potential.
“In the old days nostalgia was for writers and poets,” they say, “developers were pre-occupied with building the future.” The video argues that uninhibited destruction and construction is what allowed New York to rise as the preeminent city, positing that if the Landmarks Act had been passed in 1865 (as opposed to 1965) modern New York would not exist.
Some of the examples they cite include the original Waldorf Astoria, which, although considered an architectural masterpiece in its time, was demolished to make way for none other than the Empire State Building. They also look back on a row of townhouses that were razed over so the Woolworth Building could rise. In fact, there would be no skyscrapers at all today if the act came into play in the 19th century, they say. With the Landmarks Act commemorating its 50th anniversary, ReasonTV believes that instead of celebrating NIMBYism, we should use the marker as “an opportunity to mourn all the buildings that will never exist because of a misguided law.”
Watch the video above for more.
- Crimes Against Architecture: Treasured NYC Landmarks That Have Been Purposely Destroyed or Damaged
- Architectural Saviors: NYC Landmarks Saved From Destruction
- The Wild and Dark History of the Empire State Building