Thursday, August 18, 2005

Pressure Mounts on LPC to Hold Hearings

In the City Council and in the court of public opinion, pressure is mounting on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to hold public hearings on the buildings that matter most to New Yorkers.

Yesterday, NY City Council Member Bill Perkins introduced a “Landmarks Hearing” bill (Intro 705) to help ensure that historic buildings and districts that earn support from a majority of council members for consideration or that meet the eligibility criteria for the NY State Register of Historic Places receive fair, open, democratic designation hearings before the LPC. (See below to learn how you can help get this law passed, and visit the New York City Council's website to read the text of Intro 705 at The intent of the “Landmarks Hearing” bill is to stem the tide of worthy buildings that are overlooked for hearings by the LPC without explanation to the public. Cases in point include St.Thomas the Apostle Church in Harlem, the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, the Richmond Hill district in Queens, and the (now sadly lost) Dorothy Day Cottage in Staten Island.

Meanwhile, expert support continues to grow for the LPC to hold a public hearing on 2 Columbus Circle, reports David W. Dunlap in today’s New York Times (“For 2 Columbus Circle, a Growing Fan Club," 8/18/05, pB3, link to article below). No less an authority than
Vincent Scully, the Sterling professor emeritus of art history at Yale University and one of the world’s most esteemed scholars of 20-century American architecture, wrote an August 14 letter to LPC Chair Robert B. Tierney (who has claimed taking an undergraduate course with Scully 40 years ago as his principal architectural education). Scully instructs his former student, “Something rather wonderful has occurred, by which [2 Columbus Circle], rarely anyone’s favorite building in the past, is looking better every day. Its own integrity, its uniqueness, the indomitable determination to make a point that produced it, are come to the fore and are powerfully affecting the way we see it.” The full text of the letter is available on LW’s website at NT>

Link to David Dunlap's New York Times article:

As further evidence of “the redemptive power that the passage of time holds for once-ugly ducklings,” Dunlap also cites the newly expressed support of several former landmarks commissioners (William E. Davis, Sarah Bradford Landau, Stephen M. Raphael and Mildred F. Schmertz), who recently called on Tierney to schedule a hearing for 2 Columbus Circle, joining Gene A. Norman and Beverly Moss Spatt (both former chairs) and Anthony M. Tung, whose support has been on record for nearly a year. Former commissioner Jack Freeman also supports a hearing, and
former LPC Chair David F.M. Todd has stated his hope that a hearing would "strengthen the Landmarks Law."

2 Columbus Circle is just one prominent example of the LPC's lack of responsiveness to the public and the need for immediate action to remedy this threat to our city's heritage. HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO:

1) Contact your local council member(s) urging them to sign on as a co-sponsor of Intro 705, the "Landmarks Hearing" bill. A list of council members, their districts and contact information is available at

2) Join "Citizens for a Responsive Landmarks Law," the coalition in formation to advocate for Intro 705. Reply to this email with permission to use your and/or your organization's name in connection with this initiative.

3) Email/call/fax Mayor Bloomberg. Urge him to break the wall of silence and call for a public hearing for 2 Columbus Circle today! Email: go to and type your message in the space provided. Phone: 212-788-3000, Fax: (212) 788-2460. We appreciate receiving blind copies of your letters - please send to

See our website for additional updates -

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

Landmarks Commission Stirs on 2 Columbus Circle

"The debate over whether 2 Columbus Circle merits consideration as an official landmark is playing out on the Landmarks Preservation Commission itself," reports David W. Dunlap in today's New York Times ("Unanimity on a Building is a Facade, Insiders Say," 8/9/05, pB3, link to full text below). At long last! Recent rumblings suggest that the discussion about the future of 2 Columbus Circle may finally be taking place where it belongs, among the current 11 members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

Dunlap writes that a letter from Landmarks Commissioner Roberta Brandes Gratz to the editor of the Times (printed 8/6/05, pA13, se August 8th entry below) "suggested that at least some of the 11 commissioners favor a public hearing, as did telephone interviews yesterday with several members."

Link to Dunlap's article:

Reading tea leaves is not our specialty, but one can only hope this news augurs well for 2 Columbus Circle and, more importantly, for the wisdom, integrity and independence of the LPC itself. An LPC spokesperson states that Chair Robert B. Tierney is "not inclined to revisit this question." Why not, if former Chair Sherida E. Paulsen's claim that 19 commissioners since 1996 exercised their "professional judgment" that 2 Columbus Circle fails the test for a hearing turns out to be untrue?

Ask Mayor Bloomberg! Call, e-mail, fax him today to let him know that in new Yorkers' minds this is definitely not a closed case. Contact information below:

Mayor Michael R. BloombergE-mail: go to and type your message in the space provided
Phone: 212-788-3000
Fax: 212-788-2460
We appreciate receiving blind copies of your letters - please send them to

Monday, August 8, 2005

From the New York Times: Commissioners Set the Record Straight RE: 2 Columbus Circle

Challenging the assertion that 19 members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) from 1996 to the present had each come to a negative decision about the merits of 2 Columbus Circle for landmark designation, former LPC Chair Beverly Moss Spatt and current commissioner Roberta Brandes Granz have responded to an op-ed piece by former Chair Sherida E. Paulsen ("The Black Hole of 2 Columbus Circle," New York Times, July 30th 2005). Click Here for Spatt's and Gratz's letters to the editor, printed in Saturday's Times (August 6, 2005, pA12). Paulsen's op-ed is included at the end.