Preservation Issues

From our very first years, the Landmarks Conservancy has championed the cause of vacant, neglected, and threatened buildings. With the Conservancy’s help, the U.S. Customs House, a Beaux-Arts palace on Bowling Green, found new life as the home of the National Museum of the American Indian. In 1974, the Conservancy convinced the Department of Buildings to halt the demolition already in progress of 19th-century commercial buildings on the Fraunces Tavern block, and eventually purchased the five survivors and leased them to a private developer for conversion to residential and commercial use.

To safeguard the more than 21,000 buildings protected by the City’s Landmarks Law, the Conservancy works closely with property owners, community groups, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and other public agencies.

We also advocate for buildings not yet landmarked, from sacred sites to private buildings across the boroughs.

Recent issues include:

Elected Officials Challenge HHC at South Street Seaport

A rendering of Howard Hughes Corporation’s 494-foot-tall tower at the South Street Seaport (Credit: SHoP)

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Picasso Curtain Moves into New Home at Historical Society

Conservancy President Peg Breen at the New-York Historical Society Picasso Curtain Opening

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Exporting Preservation: New York City to Tbilisi, Georgia

Lena Kiladze, Peg Breen, Tara Kelly, and Mary Kay Judy

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Zoning Plan Continues to Put Neighborhoods at Risk

Sterling Place, Prospect Heights, Brooklyn - An overlay area with contextual zoning and historic district designation.

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The Destruction of Landmark P.S. 31

-Bronx P.S. 31 - photo by Ed García Conde,


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Crown Heights North Gets a Third Historic District

-Proposed District, Crown Heights North III

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Report Finds Portions of Renny Can be Saved

-The "Renny" during the Jazz Age of the 1920s

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Conservancy Partners With High School Program

-Students at Bronx International High School's Preservation Technology Program

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Update on Rezoning Near Grand Central Terminal

-Rendering of One Vanderbilt and Grand Central Terminal, looking north from 42nd Street up Vanderbilt Avenue. Image courtesy Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

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Fifty Years of Landmarks

-Landmarks Law signed by Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. on April 19, 1965

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Conservancy Opposes Dome on Tammany Hall and Alterations to East 72nd Street Townhouse

Tammany Hall 44 Union Square East - renovation proposal, BKSK Architects

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Preservation Colleagues Meet in Pittsburgh

Station Square in Pittsburgh, PA

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Conservancy Thanks Tierney for his Dedicated Public Service

Former Landmarks Commission Chair, Robert Tierney and Conservancy President, Peg Breen

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LPC Rejects City and Suburban Hardship Claim

- City and Suburban Homes 2006

January 24, 2012

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Defending Landmarking in Lively Debate

Conservancy President Peg Breen, President of the Real Estate Board of New York Steven Spinola, Ronda Wist of the Municipal Arts Society and History Professor Kenneth Jackson

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Supertowers Draw Hundreds for Debate Over Height and Landmarking

Supertowers along 57th Street Near Central Park

The rise of several new and proposed supertowers — skyscrapers reaching 1400 or 1500 feet up — clustered on 57th Street and sure to cast long shadows on Central Park has alarmed New Yorkers.

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New Landmarks Subcommittee Takes the Stage

New City Council Land Use Subcommittee Chair, Queens Councilmember Peter Koo

The new City Council Land Use Subcommittee met for the first time this past Tuesday and affirmed the designations of four new landmarks. Queens Councilmember Peter Koo now chairs the subcommittee.

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Threatened Rizzoli Bookstore Loss Sparks Public Outcry for Landmarking

Rizzoli bookstore on West 57th Street

The likely loss of the beloved Rizzoli bookstore on West 57th Street has provoked a public outcry over the loss of another piece of architectural and cultural history. Book lovers and architecture lovers alike are gathering signatures and petitioning the mayor’s office in a demonstration that preservation is important to New Yorkers.

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What Does the Future Hold for New York State Pavilion

New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park

The Landmarks Conservancy was very pleased to support the kickoff of “People for the Pavilion” at the Queens Theatre on January 25. An audience of 250+ learned about the past, present and possible future of the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

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Shahn Murals in Bronx Post Office to be Saved

"America at Work" Murals - Bronx Post Office

The Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing where they formally considered the designation of the Bronx General Post Office’s lobby as an interior landmark.

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The End of PS31, A Municipal Disgrace

-PS 31

The Landmarks Preservation Commission reluctantly agreed last week that a landmark Bronx school that was damaged, and ultimately abandoned, by the City can be demolished.

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Local Girl Scouts Are Back to Help Save Pacific Branch Library

The Landmarks Conservancy has been working with the community, elected officials and the Girl Scouts to landmark and save Brooklyn’s Pacific Street Library.

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Testimony on Recent Landmark Alterations and New Construction

Proposed tower on 57th Street adjacent to Steinway Hall

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Conservancy Testifies in Support of Windermere Restoration

The Conservancy testified at a Landmarks Commission hearing on November 12, a milestone in the history of a remarkable West Side building.

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Midtown East Rezoning

Yale Club - 50 Vanderbilt Ave - James Gamble Rogers, 1915

The City’s controversial Midtown East Rezoning proposal targets several historic buildings by significant American architects as potential development sites.

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Tell Senator Schumer It’s Our City Too!

Please sign this petition to let the Senator know that you are one of “those people” fighting for the best interests of New York.

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Conservancy To Do List for Landmarks Commission

Simulation of Midtown East upzoning from Environmental Simulation Center, LTD

Here’s our ‘to do’ list for the LPC before the year ends.

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Sandy Assistance Update

Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

A year after the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy a great deal of work has been done to repair the storm’s damage, but a great deal more remains to be done.

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Council Countdown on Midtown East

Midtown East Press Conference

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Community Boards Vote “No” on Midtown East Upzoning

Simulation of Midtown East upzoning from Environmental Simulation Center, LTD

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Conservancy Continues Help, Six New Emergency Grants Given

Woodlawn Cemetery

Citywide – Storm Relief Efforts

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Assistance to Historic Properties Damaged by Sandy

South Street Seaport

We welcome additional inquiries, let us know if you need assistance.

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Tobacco Warehouse Update

Tobacco Warehouse - Brooklyn

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Two New Historic Districts

Park Place Historic District, Brooklyn

West End Extension I and Park Place, Brooklyn

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New Coalition Questions Landmarks Law And Process

West End Avenue Historic District Extension I

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Important Update: Brooklyn Bridge Park Settlement

Tobacco Warehouse

Settlement ratifies Federal and State Court victories re Brooklyn Bridge Park
-City to follow all relevant laws

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City Council Holds Marathon Hearing on Landmarks Issues

Mayor Wagner signs Landmarks Law, 1965

May 2, 2012 – Two City Council Committees held a joint hearing on 11 proposed Landmarks Bills.

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Bedford Historic District, Brooklyn

Bedford Historic District, Brooklyn -LPC Report

Strong Interest for New Historic District

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Conservancy Participates in D.C. Preservation Advocacy Day

-U.S. Capitol Building, Washington D.C.

The Landmarks Conservancy promoted federal funding for preservation and emphasized the jobs, community revitalization, sustainability, and tourism that preservation promotes in March 8 visits to the New York Congressional delegation on national Preservation Advocacy Day.

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Restoration of the Met’s Fifth Avenue Plaza

A rendering of the proposal.

The Conservancy’s Public Policy Committee attended a briefing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on February 8 to see plans for restoration of the Met’s Fifth Avenue Plaza.

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Admiral’s Row Update

Admirals Row

The New York Landmarks Conservancy is happy that the Admirals Row property has finally been sold to the City and is now in the hands of the Navy Yard who we hope will act quickly to stabilize the two historic structures that are to remain on the site.

Although we would have preferred to see more of the houses saved, we believe that the plan espoused by the Navy Yard incorporating two of the historic buildings is a good one. We trust that the Navy Yard will honor its commitment to historic preservation and look forward to seeing how work on the site proceeds.

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Governors Island Alliance Charts Independence

The mission is to build a constituency for the Island, promote appropriate new development, and the preservation and reuse of the historic buildings.

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Second Court Decision Finds City and State Violated the Law Regarding the Tobacco Warehouse

Tobacco Warehouse, Brooklyn

State Court Declares Illegal Transfer Of Historic Structure a “Nullity,” Saying State And City Officials Violated Public Trust

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Preservation Alert - LPC Salvage Warehouse Auction

Decorative Masonry Cow Head

Over the summer, Conservancy staff visited the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Salvage Warehouse just before an auction of its contents (read story). Now items in the warehouse will be put on the auction block again in 30 smaller lots.

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Conservancy Find at LPC Warehouse

An Early Sacred Sites Exhibit

Imagine our surprise, when an early Sacred Sites exhibit was discovered among the boxes and artifacts stored at the Landmarks Commission warehouse.

The exhibit was launched in 1990 to promote the importance of saving historic religious properties. It premiered at the Urban Center and was later displayed on Long Island and in Westchester. Evidently, we stored it in the warehouse awaiting another exhibit venue. We’re still waiting! And now our “landlords” at the LPC want us out! If anyone wants three, free, 12-foot kiosks with religious imagery, let us know.

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Reflections: Ten Years After 9/11

Survivor's Staircase

9/11 will always bring memories of the thousands of lives lost in the attack, but it also reminded us of how important buildings are to this City. The Twin Towers were not official landmarks, but they were a visible anchor as we moved about New York and welcomed us on our return from trips. They truly marked the land.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy formed a special emergency fund with partner groups immediately after 9/11 to help restore landmark buildings damaged that day. We became consulting parties to recovery and rebuilding efforts at Ground Zero. And we documented historic buildings Lower Manhattan, as the City looked to redevelop in the area around Ground Zero.

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Restoration Begins on Queens’ Oldest Synagogue

Scaffolding was erected at all four sides of the 1914 Tifereth Israel synagogue in Corona recently. This week, paint analysis was conducted by Richbrook Conservation to determine the building’s historic paint colors, and samples of original window trim and siding were removed by the window manufacturer, Parrett Windows, and the general contractor, Loduca Associates/Lipsky Enterprises, to facilitate accurate restoration and the preparation of shop drawings. Removal of the exterior stucco will begin later this week.

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Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation Approves New Slate Roof for Island Chapel

At the urging of the Conservancy, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC) approved a new slate roof for the 1888 Chapel of the Good Shepherd. The new slate will restore the original appearance of the landmark’s massive roofs.

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Tobacco Warehouse Update

In a ruling with national implications, United States District Judge Eric N. Vitaliano handed The New York Landmarks Conservancy and other plaintiffs an historic victory when he ruled July 12 that the Tobacco Warehouse and the Empire Stores were illegally removed from federally protected parkland in Brooklyn Bridge Park. He ordered their return to public parkland.

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Inspecting LPC’s Salvage Warehouse

Images of the warehouse contents.

The planned auction of the contents of the long-ago-shuttered Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) salvage warehouse caused some controversy among colleagues and the public. There were fears that important pieces of the City’s architectural history would be lost.

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West Park Presbyterian Church Update

The circa 1939 tax photo shows a standing seam metal roof at the sanctuary – which means that within 40 years of construction, the original slate or tile roof was replaced with a metal one.

A Conservancy-funded phased restoration plan for West-Park Presbyterian Church is nearly complete. For the last several months, the Conservancy has worked closely with the church, initially overseeing urgent roof drainage repairs; then initiating and funding the creation of a phased exterior restoration plan, including Conservancy research to establish original roof materials.

This month the Conservancy arranged inspection of the church by a fire safety consulting engineer as well as solicited and provided a Conservancy Sacred Sites grant to fund engineering inspection and design to secure severely cracked plaster at the sanctuary ceiling – like the spring roof leaks – an immediate priority.

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Ceremony Marks Start of $1.6M Restoration of Oldest Queens Synagogue

A groundbreaking ceremony was held at Congregation Tifereth Israel, 109-18 54th Avenue in Corona, at 11 am June 22. The landmark 1911 wooden building is a rare survivor of the earliest, vernacular synagogues built in Queens and is the oldest synagogue in the borough, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

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“Cronocaos” or “Crockocaos?”  Rem Koolhaas vs. Preservation

The New York Times architecture critic suggests that visitors to the current Rem Koolhaas exhibit at the New Museum may conclude that preservation has become a “dangerous epidemic.” They might as easily conclude that it is hard to figure out what Mr. Koolhaas is saying at all.

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Update: West Park Presbyterian Church

Larry Best, The Rev. Dr. Robert L. Brashear, Tom Garcia, and (not visible) Matthew Gottsegen & Patrick Baldoni inspect masonry façade and windows of West Park Presbyterian Church from the sidewalk bridge.

This April and May, the Conservancy administered urgent interim roof repairs to the sanctuary and community building, stopping four active leaks. Additionally, the Conservancy oversaw plumbing repairs to blocked cast iron storm drains, arresting active leaks in this recently designated landmark on the upper West Side. Missing leaders were replaced, roof drains cleaned, and a ladder provided to facilitate future inspection and maintenance. Altogether, $8,350 was expended, leaving a balance of just over $4,000 in the West Park Restoration Fund, established last year by New York City Council Member Gale Brewer and administered by the Conservancy.

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Tobacco Warehouse Update

In a hopeful sign, the National Park Service may be preparing a settlement offer to end the Conservancy’s and other plaintiffs lawsuit against the NPS for removing the historic Empire Stores and Tobacco Warehouse from Brooklyn Bridge Park without following legally mandated public procedures.

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Court Upholds Conservancy on Tobacco Warehouse

In a sweeping decision, United States District Judge Eric N. Vitaliano ruled that the National Park Service (“NPS”) violated federal law by removing two historic landmarks from federally protected parkland. With this decision granting a preliminary injunction, the Court ordered NPS to protect these Civil-War era structures – the Tobacco Warehouse and the Empire Stores – from the current development plans of the Bloomberg Administration. Click here to read the full press release. Click here to read the full decision

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Sen. Gillibrand Weighs in on Admiral’s Row

Historic photo of the 1853 Timber Shed

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Admiral’s Row Historic Sites Endangered

Despite a recent agreement to save the “timber shed,” an 1850s brick storehouse built to hold ship timbers, the national guard announced that it would not stabilize the structure because they felt it could lead to its collapse. The Navy Yard has now joined the Conservancy and others demanding that the structure—the only one of its kind left in the country—be immediately protected.

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