Recent Initiatives

Landmarks Mobile App

Download Landmarks New York, Our New iPhone Mobile App – Find Landmarks in All Five Boros!

In celebration of the Conservancy’s 40th anniversary, it’s our great pleasure to announce the release of Landmarks: New York iPhone app, a collaboration with Spatiality apps. The Landmarks: New York mobile app allows you to enter your location or a specific address on a map to identify more than 1,400 landmarked buildings and sites throughout the five boroughs. Photos, facts and other interesting details are listed for each New York City landmark. In addition to the mapping feature, you also get a Google Maps street view option and a photo upload feature that allows you to instantly share your images to Facebook, Twitter or email. All this for just $1.99

Preservation Issues

Settlement Reached: Picasso Curtain to Move to New-York Historical Society and Remain on Public View

During the weekend Picasso’s “Le Tricorne” was successfully removed from the Four Seasons restaurant. Bravo to Lead Technician Tom Zoufaly of Art Installation Design and his staff and the great team from Auer’s Rigging & Moving. They moved the largest Picasso artwork in the country in an intricate 12-hour operation. It’s the end of an era. The 20-foot high Curtain has been the centerpiece of the Four Seasons restaurant since 1959. But it is also the beginning of a new era for this important artwork.

The New York Times did a nice job documenting the entire nerve-racking process. Learn more about the removal and see the crew at work.

This morning, the 95-year-old Curtain is on its way to The Williamstown Art Conservation Center in Williamstown, MA. for some minor conservation and cleaning. It will then go to it’s new home at the New-York Historical Society where even more people will be able to enjoy “New York’s Picasso.”


Learn more about the Conservancy’s involvement with the Picasso curtain.

Conservancy Joins Effort to Save New York State Pavilion in Queens

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz asked the Conservancy to join a newly created Task Force to preserve and reuse the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows – Corona Park. This coalition will guide the restoration of the pavilion, originally part of the 1964/65 World Fair and a very visible symbol of Queens and New York City.

During the past year, leading up to 50th anniversary of the opening of the Fair, there has been a groundswell of support for preserving rather than demolishing the buildings. A local group called “People for the Pavilion” has helped gain popular support for saving and reusing these symbols of New York. They are also working with the Borough President to develop a sustainable reuse plan to transform the site into a vibrant cultural space and park attraction. The Conservancy has been advising the young principals of this group since mid-2013. Learn more.

Conservancy Calls for Preservation to be part of Midtown East Plan

The Conservancy is once again working to ensure that preservation is part of the plan to rezone Midtown East. The first proposals are focused on Vanderbilt Avenue, a five-block stretch across from Grand Central Terminal (GCT), that includes four buildings the Conservancy believes are landmark quality: the Yale Club, 52 Vanderbilt, the Roosevelt Hotel, and 51 East 42nd Street.

Warren and Wetmore, the architect of Grand Central, designed 51 East 42nd Street as part of Terminal City, a complex of buildings meant to complement GCT. Now that building is likely to be demolished and replaced by One Vanderbilt, a 1,300 foot-plus tower. In order to comply with the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), the architects were required to present the plans for the building and whether it has a harmonious relationship with Grand Central. The Conservancy’s Public Policy Committee reviewed the proposal and found that the relationship was not harmonious. At a July 22 hearing, the LPC determined that it was.

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Post-Sandy Assistance

February 2013 – Since the storm in late 2012, the Conservancy has awarded approximately $120,000 in grants to non-profit and religious organizations to assist in repairs and restoration of their landmark buildings. Learn more about our Post-Sandy assistance.

January 2013 – The Conservancy and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation co-sponsored a panel discussion titled “Superstorm Sandy: Preservation, Prevention and Progress” at the Salmagundi Club. Conservancy Technical Director Alex Herrera joined Robert Pirani of the Regional Plan Association and Michael Devonshire of Jan Hird Pokorny Architects on the panel. Robert Rogers of Rogers Marvel Architects moderated. The discussion began with an analysis of the sorts of damage done to different parts of the city with an emphasis on historic buildings. Alex Herrera detailed several of the Conservancy’s post-Sandy emergency grants to historic structures. Michael Devonshire went into great detail about one of our grantees, the Bowne and Company print shop that is part of the South Street Seaport Museum. Learn more.

Working to Save Important Bronx WPA Murals

March 2013 – The Conservancy is working with Congressman José E. Serrano to save an irreplaceable collection of WPA murals that adorn the public spaces of the landmarked Bronx Post Office at 560 Grand Concourse. The murals, painted in 1937 by noted American artist Ben Shahn, are at risk of being lost if a proposed sale by the U.S. Post Office goes through without protections in place. The 13 murals entitled “*America at Work*” were inspired by Walt Whitman’s poem “I See America Working”. They depict the dignity of labor and American industry. They were part of the original building construction and are described in the Landmarks Commission’s designation report even though they are afforded no protection by the building’s exterior designation. Learn more.

Protect the Palisades

March 2013 – The Conservancy has joined a coalition of groups seeking to protect the “National Natural Landmark of the Palisades” from a proposed building that would rise above the current building height limit and be visible above the tree line from northern Manhattan and the Bronx. For more than 100 years the united efforts of politicians, community groups, and philanthropists have protected the natural scenic beauty of the majestic Palisades and its stretch of the Hudson River. But recently, Englewood Cliffs, NJ has approved a variance that would allow LG Electronics USA, to construct a new corporate headquarters that would rise 143 feet, or over a hundred feet above the established height limit in the area. The new building would be visible from across the river and from the George Washington Bridge. Learn more about this preservation issue and how you can help.

Concern for Proposed Sales of Branch Libraries and Public Schools

March 2013 – Two historic branch libraries in Brooklyn as well as a public school by a modern master in Manhattan are being proposed for sale to the highest bidder. The Conservancy is requesting that the Landmarks Commission designate these fine historic buildings as Individual Landmarks. The Conservancy met with Brooklyn Public Library officials last week. They confirmed that they hope to close two well-loved neighborhood libraries, the Pacific Street Branch, and the Cadman Plaza Branch and sell them to private developers. The officials acknowledge that both facilities are heavily used by their respective communities but said that a lack of maintenance funds from the City makes it impossible to adequately repair and refurbish the existing buildings. Learn more.

Sacred Sites Program

Conservancy Awards over $300,000 in 22 Grants for Sacred Sites

April, 2014 – On April 25th the Sacred Sites Committee met and awarded over $300,000 in 22 grants to religious institutions throughout New York State, from Buffalo to Middle Island, in Suffolk County. These grants included over $86,000 in 16 Sacred Sites Grants, and seven Robert W. Wilson Sacred Sites Challenge Grants totaling $250,000.

Grantees included an 1887 Stick-style seasonal chapel in Oneida County, which received a $5,000 grant for structural repairs of beams and replacement of decorative wood trim, and the Temple Society of Concord, in Syracuse, a 1910-1911 synagogue by architects Alfred Taylor and Arnold W. Brunner, which received a $2,000 grant pledge towards replacement of metal roof flashing.

The seven Wilson Challenge Grant pledges were awarded to four New York City congregations, one church in Columbia County and two congregations in Central New York. These grantees include the First Presbyterian Church of Hudson, an 1837 church by architects Brush and Waterman, altered by architect John A. Woods in 1876, which received a $50,000 grant pledge towards restoration of a monumental stained-glass window on the front facade, and Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan’s Washington Square, constructed in 1892 to designs by architects McKim, Mead & White, which received a $30,000 pledge towards masonry façade, wood window and door restoration.

Sacred Sites Program Gives Assistance to Storm Damaged Properties

January 2013 – Inspection and Recovery for Damaged 1928 Synagogue in Brighton Beach. Conservancy staff brought Michael Devonshire of Jan Hird Pokorny Associates on an inspection of ground floor flooding and exterior wind damage at the 1928 Mediterranean Revival Jewish Center of Brighton Beach. Its location on Ocean Parkway at Neptune Avenue is in an area that suffered some of Hurricane Sandy’s worst flooding damage. Devonshire took moisture meter readings and advised the synagogue on the extent of interior demolition. Learn more about our program assistance to other congregations.

Prospect Cemetery Revitalization Initiative

Prospect Cemetery in Jamaica, Queens, with its vacant Chapel of the Sisters, had been in need of attention for many decades, when three nonprofit organizations came together in 1999 to form the Prospect Cemetery Revitalization Initiative. The goals of the Revitalization Initiative included physically securing the site, restoring its Chapel, removing the overgrown vegetation, conserving the markers, re-landscaping the grounds, and instituting interpretive history and educational programs based upon the newly reclaimed Prospect Cemetery site. Learn more about this revitalization project.