Tag Archives: Urban History

A History of Family Poverty and Homelessness in NYC


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ThePoorAmongUs_frontcoverWith nearly 49,000 people living in city shelters, including almost 21,000 children—a modern-day record that may well be broken—there has never been more of a need to step back and understand how New Yorkers have confronted poverty and homelessness over time.

The Poor Among Us: A History of Family Poverty and Homelessness in New York City (2013, White Tiger Press), puts current policies in perspective through the lens of nearly 300 years of public and philanthropic efforts to alleviate poverty in New York City. Continue reading

FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern NYC


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City of AmbitionCity of Ambition: FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern New York (W. W. Norton & Company, 2013) by urban politics historian Mason B. Williams is a loving exploration of the history of the New Deal and its role in the making of modern New York City.

The story of a remarkable collaboration between Franklin Roosevelt and Fiorello La Guardia, this is a case study in creative political leadership in the midst of a devastating depression. Roosevelt and La Guardia were an odd couple: patrician president and immigrant mayor, fireside chat and tabloid cartoon, pragmatic Democrat and reform Republican. But together, as leaders of America’s two largest governments in the depths of the Great Depression, they fashioned a route to recovery for the nation and the master plan for a great city. Continue reading

A Short History of the Highrise: Innovative Short Films


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Highrise FilmThe New York Times’s Op-Docs and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) have debuted an immersive, interactive multimedia series on urban highrise living. The series, “A Short History of the Highrise,” had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival and launches today on NYTimes.com.

The series unfolds in four short, interactive films that viewers can navigate using touch commands like swipe, pinch, pull and tap. On desktop and laptop computers, users can mouse over features and click to navigate. Smartphone users can view the four films via the New York Times Mobile Web site. Continue reading

Jewish History in New York: An ‘Arrival Day’ Tour


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Shearith_Israel_19th_St_Bldg_int_from_ Angel Remnant of IsraelOn September 29, 2013 a walking tour of lower Manhattan which traces Jewish history will celebrate “Arrival Day”, the day in 1654 that Jews first landed in North America.

The tour begins at the  flagpole in Peter Minuit Park near the Staten Island ferry that commemorates the arrival in 1654 of 23 Jews  in Lower Manhattan (then New Amsterdam) after a harrowing journey from Recife Brazil. Continue reading

Dear Andrew Cuomo: Fund History Infrastructure


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Andrew Cuomo (Times Union Photo)Last Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo inaugurated the Adirondack Challenge as an upstate tourist initiative. The Indian River rafting challenge was issued to New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who, according to news reports, is more familiar with yachts than inflatable rafts. The State defeated the City by 18 seconds in the three mile race. A wet and good time was had by all.

Governor Cuomo’s love for upstate (in particular the Adirondacks, not, say Syracuse), is well known. According to the New York Times a year before the Path through History roll-out, the Governor “has conspicuously avoided leaving the state” save for driving on the Palisades Interstate Parkway when headed north from the city. As Cuomo put it: “You can have the best vacation of your life right here in the state of New York. I see no reason to go anywhere else. It’s my state and I’m sticking to it.” Continue reading

Saving Cities: Learning from Melanie Griffith


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One of my favorite movie scenes is from Working Girl when Melanie Griffith explains while riding up the elevator with Trask and Indiana, how she came up with the idea for the corporate merger. It wasn’t as if she had been thinking about anything even remotely related to it. Her insight derived from a chance juxtaposition perceived by a mind willing to learn and open to new possibilities. Continue reading

Peter Feinman On New York’s ‘Ruin Porn’


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Ruin porn is in. Ruin porn is hot. Ruin porn is sexy. Ruin porn is the term coined by Jim Griffioen, who writes a blog about his life as a stay-at-home dad in Detroit.

As part of that effort he periodically posts photographs he has taken of the more than 70,000 abandoned buildings in his city. Such images included (as reported in the New York Times) “‘feral’ houses almost completely overgrown with vegetation; a decommissioned public-school book depository in which trees were growing out of the piles of rotting textbooks”. The term has become a familiar one in the city not without some misgivings by the locals as they watch tourists take souvenirs of their city back home. Continue reading

Roberta Brandes Gratz Recieving Landmarks Lion Award


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The Historic Districts Council, the citywide advocate for New York’s historic neighborhoods, buildings and open spaces, will present its annual Landmarks Lion Award on November 5 to advocate, author, journalist and urban critic Roberta Brandes Gratz.

Participating in the ceremony will be Ronald Shiffman, co-founder of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, Richard Rabinowitz, president of the American History Workshop, and Stephen Goldsmith, Director of the Center for the Living City. Since 1990 the Landmarks Lion Award has honored those who have shown outstanding devotion in protecting New York City’s historic buildings and neighborhoods. Continue reading

Odetta, Richard Wright Being Honored Today in NYC


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Today, Tuesday, July 17, 2012 the Historic Districts Council and the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center in New York City will unveil new cultural medallions for two pioneers in the fields of literature and music.

First at 11:00am, in collaboration with the Fort Greene Association, author Richard Wright will be celebrated with a medallion unveiling at 175 Carlton Avenue in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Then at 2:00 pm their will be an unveiling of a medallion commemorating the life of Odetta, the legendary singer, songwriter and political activist, at her longtime residence, 1270 Fifth Avenue, in East Harlem. The public is invited to both events.

Odetta: The Voice of the Civil-Rights Movement, 1930-2008

Odetta Holmes, born on December 31, 1930 in Birmingham, Alabama was a true activist, performance artist and musician. Her powerful image and robust voice was and continues to represent the politically driven folk-music of the 1950’s and 1960’s. As an African-American female performance artist during a time of political and racial upheaval, Odetta was a leader and voice for the civil rights movement; marching with Martin Luther King Jr. and performing a show for John F. Kennedy. The ability she had to convey meaning and life into her music inspired others to follow in her pursuit of fairness, equality and justice.

Author Richard Wright, 1908- 1960

Born in Mississippi, Richard Wright spent the majority of his childhood living in poverty in the oppressive racial and social atmosphere of the south. Wright escaped familial and social constraints by immersing himself in the world of literature, and became one of the first great African American writer’s of his time. Richard Wright relocated to Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood and was living here in 1938 when he drafted his first novel, Native Son. He wrote several controversial novels, short-stories and semi-autobiographical accounts that reflected the brutalities often inflicted on the African American people of the south during this period. Wright eventually left New York City for Paris. His grave is located in the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

About the Ceremony and Cultural Medallion Program

Distinguished scholars, artists and elected officials will be participating in both of the cultural medallion ceremonies. The Richard Wright program will include Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, celebrated playwright Lynn Nottage, Paul Palazzo of the Fort Greene Association, musician and author Carl Hancock Rux, and Howard Pitsch will read a message from Wright’s daughter, Julia Wright, who currently resides in Paris. Pianist Dave Keyes will perform Odetta’s signature piece, This Little Light of Mine, at the Odetta ceremony.

The Cultural Medallions are a program of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Chair of the HLPC, created the Cultural Medallions program, and will lead the ceremony. The HLPC has installed almost 100 medallions around the city to heighten public awareness of the cultural and social history of New York City.

New York Heritage Weekend, May 19 and 20th


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Organizations throughout the state will celebrate New York history during this year’s New York Heritage Weekend on May 19th & 20th. Now in its 3rd year, the weekend will offer special programs, discounted or free admission to sites and events that celebrate national, state or local heritage.

Guided hikes, local history festivals, historic garden events, open historic houses, and events that explore all kinds of New York culture and history are on tap. Last year Heritage Weekend hosted 166 Heritage Weekend events with 143 federal, state, and private organizations. For a full searchable listing of events, and maps see www.heritageweekend.org .

Not only does this Heritage Weekend celebrate New York’s rich history, but it also boosts local economies. According to recent studies, tourism generates 81 billion dollars and sustains over 670,000 jobs in New York. According to a recent study recent commissioned by the U.S. Cultural & Heritage Tourism Marketing Council and the U.S. Department of Commerce, 78% of US domestic travelers participate in cultural or heritage activities.

“Heritage Weekend opens the door to so many of New York’s great historic and cultural treasures,” said Beth Sciumeca, Executive Director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. “Once that door is open, people will find that there is a lifetime of places to experience throughout the state.”

New York Heritage Weekend 2012 is funded in part by The Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and sponsored by I Love NY, National Park Service, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and participating event partners.

Modern New York: Recent NYC Economic History


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The economic history of New York is filled with high-stakes drama. In Modern New York: The Life and Economics of a City (2012, Palgrave Macmillan), journalist, economist and political commentator Greg David (who edited the regional Crain’s New York Business for more than 20 years and is now director of the business and economics reporting program at the Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY), tells the story of the city’s financial highs and lows since the 1960s.

David fairly conservative approach looks at how Wall Street came to dominate the economy in the years following a decade of economic decline. He argues that New York City’s great recession is not happening now, and it didn’t happen after 9-11. “The Great Recession That Wasn’t”, is David’s term for the current American economic disaster.

“By comparison, the city’s great recession had occurred between 1969 and 1977, when a stock market crash devastated Wall Street and the city’s manufacturing sector collapsed and it’s competitiveness waned as the city hiked its tax burden,” David writes. “Some 650,000 jobs disappeared over those years, and the population fell by almost 1 million people, two little-discussed factors that were as important as budget chicanery in created the Fiscal Crisis that almost sent the city into bankruptcy.”

This understanding of New York’s post-war period rests in part on the neo-liberal interpretation of New York City’s recent history. It goes something like this: the anti-business policies (regulation, and higher taxes) of liberal machine politicians like John Lindsay (Mayor from 1966 to 1973) and Abe Beame (Mayor from 1974 to 1977) led to the loss of manufacturing and then the flight of New Yorkers from a desperate, crime-ridden and “grimy” Gotham. Only the pro-development policies of Ed Koch and the great victory of Rudolph Giuliani, reformist street cleaner and crime fighter, kept New York City from becoming another Detroit.

That’s more or less the story told here in chapters like “Structural Not Cyclical”, and “Making New York Safe For Commerce”. David chastises leaders for failing to recognize long term manufacturing declines, and points to unions, burdensome taxes, and restrictive zoning as the major culprit. Perhaps due to the author’s limiting regional scope and focus on the perspective of the business community, significant American trends such as baby-boom suburbanization, container shipped goods from low wage workers in Asia and elsewhere, and media-based perceptions about crime and quality of life issues are set on the back burner.

For example, a wider perspective in Modern New York would include worker struggles to retain the wages and benefits that made living in the city attractive. New York City’s economic decline coincided directly with unprecedented attacks on the city’s workers. Witness, for example, the 1966 transit strike during which Lindsey refused to negotiate and mocked workers to the press. Or the seven-month teacher strike in 1968 that was the result of the firing of teachers opposed to Lindsey’s contract negotiation plan to divide their union. These strikes were followed by actions on Broadway, and the sanitation strike in the fall of 1968. In 1971 the city’s AFSCME workforce walked off the job. One might argue that workers simply had no interest in living in the city’s difficult employment environment. Whatever the cause of the city’s working class losses, Modern New York could have offered a deeper, more multidimensional understanding of the city’s recent economic history.

In David’s interpretation, after 9-11 the finance industry and tourism stepped in to help save the day, at least temporarily. In a chapter entitled “Three Sectors To The Rescue”, the author suggests that film and television production, higher education, and the technology sectors are the future of New York, leaving the contrary reader to wonder how the city can survive without its working class.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Arts-and-Culture Investments in Placemaking


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What do theaters, cultural centers, jazz clubs and the like contribute to local economies? To public safety? To neighborhood desirability? Many agree that culture is an essential component of urban livability, but quantifying how much and in what ways is a challenge. And that makes justifying and attracting investment an equal one.

At the forum “Measuring Vibrancy: The Impacts of Arts-and-Culture Investments in Placemaking,” the Municipal Art Society of New York expects to offer those involved in placemaking – an approach to developing public spaces that starts by gathering information about users’ and potential users’ needs and aspirations – a chance to hear how some of their counterparts have met the measurement challenge.

The panelists, who represent the disciplines of economic development, urban design, research and real estate, are:

Carol Coletta, President, ArtPlace (NYC) – Moderator

Joe Cortright, President and Principal Economist, Impresa (Portland, OR)

Kevin Stolarick, Research Director, The Martin Prosperity Institute, Rotman School of Management (Toronto, ON)

Harriet Tregoning, Director, Washington, DC, Office of Planning (Washington, DC)

Sue Mosey, President, Midtown Detroit (Detroit, MI)

ArtPlace, which moderator Carol Coletta leads, is a national collaborative of foundations, federal agencies (including the NEA) and some of the nation’s largest banks which support placemaking initiatives. The organization is in the process of developing a set of “vibrancy indicators” that will measure the impact of investments in arts and culture.

“Measuring Vibrancy: The Impacts of Arts-and-Culture Investments in Placemaking” will be held on Tuesday, April 24, 6:30 – 8:00 pm (reception to follow) at the National Museum of the American Indian (One Bowling Green, NYC). The event is free, but registration is required.

This is the latest program in the MAS Arts Forum series. Produced since 1990, the series presents visionary cultural leaders working in all disciplines, across the country and around the world, who share their knowledge and experience with New Yorkers passionate about arts advocacy, policymaking and management. This event follows an April 12 MAS Arts Forum in which the leaders of all three NYC library systems will discuss the libraries’ role as centers of neighborhood cultural activity.

The Municipal Art Society of New York, founded in 1893, is a non-profit organization committed to making New York a more livable city through education, dialogue and advocacy for intelligent urban planning, design and preservation.

Preservation Conference: NYC Public, Open Spaces


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The Historic Districts Council (HDC), the citywide advocate for New York City’s historic neighborhoods, will host its 18th Annual Preservation Conference, “The Great Outside: Preserving Public and Private Open Spaces,” March 2-4, 2012.

“The Great Outside” will focus on significant open spaces and landscapes in New York City, including public parks, plazas, parkways, yards, planned communities and public housing. Participants will examine a variety of issues such as development history, current threats, preservation efforts and future use. Speakers will address both broad issues as well as smaller, neighborhood-based battles. Attendees will gain a strong understanding of how open space conservation and preservation works in New York City. The conference is co-sponsored by more than 200 community-based organizations from across the five boroughs.

The conference begins on the evening of Friday, March 2 with an opening reception and a keynote address, “Change, Continuity and Civic Ambition: Cultural Landscapes, Design and Historic Preservation,” by Charles A. Birnbaum, founder and president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, the country’s leading organization dedicated to increasing the public’s awareness and understanding of the importance and irreplaceable legacy of its cultural landscapes. This event will take place from 6-8pm at New York Law School, 185 West Broadway in Manhattan.

The conference continues Saturday, March 3 with two panels examining the preservation of public and private open space: distinguished speakers include author and curator Thomas Mellins; landscape architect Ken Smith; Thomas J. Campanella, Associate Professor of Urban Planning and Design at University of North Carolina; independent scholar Evan Mason, and Alexandra Wolfe of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities. The Saturday conference will also present networking opportunities where attendees will learn about the latest campaigns dealing with open space concerns across the city. The Conference will be held at Cooper Union, 41 Cooper Square, between East 6th and East 7th Streets, Manhattan.

On Sunday, March 4, HDC will host five related walking tours in a diverse group of New York City neighborhoods and sites with significant public and private open spaces, including Sunnyside and Woodside in Queens, public and private plazas of Midtown Manhattan, Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, the North Shore Greenbelt of Staten Island, and a bicycle tour of the changing waterfront of Williamsburg and Greenpoint in Brooklyn. Advance reservations are required.

Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx A National Historic Landmark with a stunning array of mausoleums and world class landscape design.

Midtown’s Public Plazas See the renowned as well as little-known public plazas that dot the landscape of Midtown Manhattan. Many were designed by prominent landscape architects as public amenities.

Northshore Greenbelt of Staten Island is part of the larger green belt that makes this the second largest area of city parkland in New York.

Sunnyside, Woodside and Beyond. This tour highlights a variety of significant landscapes including the early garden style housing of Sunnyside and the public housing in nearby Woodside.

Williamsburg and Greenpoint Waterfront Bicycle along this changing face of Brooklyn and learn about the large new waterfront towers, public parks and plans for the future.

HDC will offer several pre-conference programs with content related to open space issues. On February 5 at 8:30am at 232 East 11th Street, Andy Wiley-Schwartz, assistant commissioner of the city Department of Transportation, will present new and affordable pedestrian spaces created from underutilized street segments through the DOT Public Program. Both of these programs are free to the public.

Fees: March 2 Opening Night Reception and Keynote Address: $35, $30 Friends of HDC, Students & Seniors; March 3 Conference: $25, $15 for Friends of HDC & Seniors, Free for students with valid ID; March 4 Walking Tours: $25. Reservations are necessary for all programs.

For more information or to register for the Conference go to www.hdc.org or call (212) 614-9107.

The 18th Annual Preservation Conference is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City council and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by Councilmembers Inez Dickens, Daniel Garodnick, Stephen Levin and Rosie Mendez.

The conference is also co-sponsored by the New York Chapter, American Society of Landscape Architects and more than 200 Neighborhood Partner organizations.

Photo: Statue of George Washington (by Henry Kirke Brown, 1856) in the middle of Fourth Avenue at 14th Street, circa 1870; the statue was later moved to the center of Union Square Park. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Researching the History of Buildings in NYC Program


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This February, The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) offers New Yorkers with either a budding or an abiding interest in architectural history an opportunity to join the more than 500 architects, engineers, building owners, preservationists, lawyers, landmarks commissioners – and one New York City detective – who have taken the popular four-week MAS seminar Researching the History of Buildings in New York over the last two decades.

For the 20th year in a row, architectural historian and former NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission official Anthony Robins explains how to dig up the dirt on New York City buildings, their architects and their original owners. Participants will learn how to:

* Locate and understand NYC building records
* Track down client information through deeds and obituaries
* Suss out architectural info via periodicals and professional records
* Use historical archives to unearth photographs, maps and tax records

Anthony Robins is an architectural historian who has lectured for museums, universities and private groups around the world. Formerly deputy director of research and director of survey for The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, he is the author of Classics of American Architecture: The World Trade Center (Pineapple Press, 1987; new edition, 2011) and Subway Style: 100 Years of Architecture & Design in the New York City Subway (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2004), for which he won the New York City Book Award, as well as articles for The New York Times, New York Magazine, Gourmet, Architectural Record and Metropolis. He composed the site markers for Heritage Trails New York (New York’s answer to Boston’s Liberty Trail) and is a founding member of the Art Deco Society of New York as well as the creator of its walking tour program. In 1997 Robins received a Rome Prize fellowship to the American Academy in Rome. He holds an M.A. in Art History from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.

Researching the History of Buildings in New York

Dates: Wed, Feb 1, 8, 15 + 20; 5:45-7:30 p.m. + weekday field trip (date TBA)

Location: Municipal Art Society, 111 W. 57th St (b/w 6th + 7th Aves), 16th Fl

Cost: $300 ($250 for MAS members and F/T students w/ valid ID). NOTE: Lectures and field trip cannot be purchased individually.
Continuing Ed Credits: 8.0 LU CES
Registration: Register Here
Information: (212) 935-3960, ext. 1234

Wednesday, February 1, 5:45-7:30 p.m.

The Building, Part I

An introduction to the records of the Department of Buildings: (1) new buildings and alteration applications, docket books, index cards, block and lot maps; (2) the mysteries of the plan desk; and (3) and the computerized Building Information System (BIS).

Wednesday, February 8, 5:45-7:30 p.m.

The Building, Part II: the Client

How to weave your way through deeds, directories, obituaries and Who’s Who and how to navigate ProQuest and other online resources.

Wednesday, February 15, 5:45-7:30 p.m.

The Architect

Using standard texts, guidebooks, periodicals, the Avery Index, and Committee for the Preservation of Architectural Records publications.

Wednesday, February 22, 5:45-7:30 p.m.

Miscellaneous Sources

Use of photograph collections, maps, New York City archives, libraries and historical society. Special attention to early 19th-century Manhattan real-estate tax records.

Date TBA

Weekday Morning Field Trip

Visit the New York County Register’s Office (conveyance records), the Municipal Archives (Building Department and tax records), the Municipal Reference Library and the Manhattan Department of Buildings.

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS), founded in 1893, is a non-profit membership organization committed to making New York a more livable city through education, dialogue and advocacy for intelligent urban planning, design and preservation. For more information visit MAS.org.

NYC Historic Districts Council Names ‘Six to Celebrate’


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The Historic Districts Council, New York’s city-wide advocate for historic buildings and neighborhoods, has announced the 2012 Six to Celebrate, an annual listing of historic New York City neighborhoods that merit preservation attention. This is New York’s only citywide list of preservation priorities.

The six neighborhoods were chosen from applications submitted by neighborhood groups around the city on the basis of the architectural and historic merit of the area, the level of threat to the neighborhood, strength and willingness of the local advocates, and where HDC’s citywide preservation perspective and assistance could be the most meaningful. Throughout 2012, HDC will work with these neighborhood partners to set and reach preservation goals through strategic planning, advocacy, outreach, programs and publicity.

“Neighborhoods throughout New York are fighting an unseen struggle to determine their own futures. By bringing these locally-driven neighborhood preservation efforts into the spotlight, HDC hopes to focus New Yorker’s attention on the very real threats that historic communities throughout the city are facing from indiscriminate and inappropriate development.” said Simeon Bankoff, HDC’s Executive Director. “As the only list of its kind in New York City, the Six to Celebrate will help raise awareness of local efforts to save neighborhoods on a citywide level.”

Founded in 1971 as a coalition of community groups from New York City’s designated historic districts, the Historic Districts Council has grown to become one of the foremost citywide voices for historic preservation. Serving a network of over 500 neighborhood-based community groups in all five boroughs, HDC strives to protect, preserve and enhance New York City’s historic buildings and neighborhoods through ongoing programs of advocacy, community development and education.

The Six to Celebrate will be formally introduced at the Six to Celebrate Launch Party on Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 5:30-7:30pm at the Bowery Poetry Club (308 Bowery at East First Street). For more information or tickets, visit www.hdc.org.

The 2012 Six to Celebrate (in alphabetical order):

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Elegant rowhouses, Victorian-era mansions and pre-war apartment buildings combine with parks, vibrant commercial streets and impressive institutional buildings to make Bay Ridge a quintessential New York City neighborhood. For more than 30 years, the Bay Ridge Conservancy has been working to preserve and enhance the built environment of this architecturally and ethnically diverse area.

Far Rockaway Beachside Bungalows, Queens

Once upon a summertime, Far Rockaway was the vacation spot for working-class New Yorkers. Although recent decades have erased much of this history, just off the Boardwalk on Beach 24th, 25th, and 26th Streets rows of beach bungalows built between 1918 and 1921 still stand. The Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association is seeking to preserve and revitalize this unique collection of approximately 100 buildings.

Morningside Heights, Manhattan

Situated between Riverside Park and Morningside Park, two scenic landmarks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, and developed mainly between 1900 and 1915, Morningside Heights is characterized by architecturally-unified apartment buildings and row houses juxtaposed with major institutional groupings. The Morningside Heights Historic District Committee is working towards city designation of this elegant neighborhood.

Port Morris Gantries, The Bronx

In the South Bronx neighborhood of Port Morris, a pair of ferry gantries deteriorating in an empty lot may seem an eyesore to some, but the Friends of Brook Park sees them as the centerpiece to an engaging public space. Taking inspiration from other New York City waterside parks, this new park will combine recreation, education, and preservation of New York’s history for residents and visitors alike.

Van Cortlandt Village, The Bronx

Once the site of Revolutionary War-era Fort Independence, Van Cortlandt Village developed into a residential enclave in the 20th century. Built on a winding street plan designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, responding to the hills and views of the area, the neighborhood consists of small Neo-Colonial and Tudor revival homes and apartment buildings, including the Shalom Alecheim Houses, an early cooperative housing project. The Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association is seeking to bring awareness to the neighborhood’s historic and architectural value as well as nominate it to the National Register of Historic Places.

Victorian Flatbush, Brooklyn

Located in the heart of Brooklyn, Victorian Flatbush is known for being the largest concentration of Victorian wood-frame homes in the country. The area presently has five New York City Historic Districts, but the blocks in between them remain undesignated and unprotected despite architecture of the same vintage and style. Six local groups representing Beverly Square East, Beverly Square West, Caton Park, Ditmas Park West, South Midwood and West Midwood have joined together with the Flatbush Development Corporation to “complete the quilt” of city designation of their neighborhoods.

The 1902 Park Avenue Tunnel Collision Online


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This Sunday marks the anniversary of a largely forgotten piece of New York history. On January 8, 1902, there was a train collision in the train tunnels of New York City. As a result of this disaster, laws were passed in NY which banned steam engines from entering Manhattan and forced the train companies to look into designing electric rails for their commuter trains. To accommodate electric rails, the old Grand Central Depot was torn down and the new and larger Grand Central Station was built, which changed the landscape of NYC forever.

Researcher Cathy Horn has been building an online memorial to the event which includes lists of those involved (including some short biographies), photos, documents, and newspaper clippings from the event.

Utica Landmarks Society Honors Preservationists


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The Landmarks Society of Greater Utica has honored the recipients of its 2011 Awards of Merit at the society’s annual meeting November 17. A Lifetime Achievement/Distinguished Service Award was presented to Rand Carter, Professor of the History of Art, Hamilton College, for nearly two decades of dedication to the Landmarks Society and the area community in the preservation of historic properties.

The additional honorees are:

David and Regina Bonacci, 251-253 Bleecker St. In 2009, the Bonacci’s purchased a building which most recently contained Gerald’s Men Shop and which dates back to the mid 1800s. It had been on the “endangered buildings” list and was scheduled for demolition for parking in 2007. After extensive renovation, the building now serves as the Bonacci’s loft-style residence, and houses Bonacci Architects headquarters.

St. Joseph’s/St. Patrick’s Church, 702 Columbia St. Constructed in 1873 by German parishioners, the church merged with St. Patrick’s Church in 1968. The parish recently completed a privately funded, $2 million interior and exterior renovation which reflects its commitment to excellence and authenticity in the restoration of sacred spaces and historic buildings.

Manuel and Emmita Avila, l001 Miller St. The Avila’s purchased this stately Queen Anne Colonial Revival house which was on the city’s most endangered buildings list, and have undertaken significant restoration efforts to save it from further deterioration.

Tracy Mills, the The New Uptown Theatre, 2014 Genesee St. Mills purchased Utica’s only full-time movie theater in Utica in 2007. She has since completed the first phases of restoration to maintain the theater’s character-defining features, with plans for upcoming work on the marquee and stage. The theatre has become an anchor destination for the Uptown Entertainment District.

Orin and Kim Domenico, Domenico’s Café & The Other Side, 2011 Genesee St. The Domenico family has successfully partnered with their neighbors to create a vibrant and thriving coffee shop and venue for a host of community programs in the Uptown Entertainment District.

Stuart Bannatyne and Vincent Ficchi, Pier’s & Blake, 330 Main St. In 2007, Stuart Bannatyne purchased the Doyle Hardware building, constructed in 1881. hrough a substantial renovation program, the building has been returned to its original character. Thanks to Bannatyne and his business partner Vincent Ficchi, the building is now home of Pier’s & Blake, a cosmopolitan urban pub and gourmet steak house.

Photo: Rand Carter (right) receives the Distinguished Service/Lifetime Achievement Award from the Landmarks Society of Greater Utica President Michael Bosak. Photo provided.