Thursday, March 24, 2011

UPDATE :: Video of West End Avenue public hearing, for your educational and viewing pleasure

Following up on yesterday's blog post (and email, and NearSay story!) ...

See for yourself!  For those who were unable to attend the Tuesday, March 22nd, public hearing of the Landmarks Preservation Commission to consider the proposed Riverside Drive-West End Avenue Historic District Extension I, and for those looking to relive that public hearing magic, head to our YouTube channel!

We've captured the entire public hearing (all near-three hours of it!), and made it available over six video clips.  Starting with a brief presentation by the LPC chair, Robert Tierney, and Research Department staff, the videos then roll into the public testimony portion of the hearing.  Included in the clips (within each group, in order of appearance):

Upper West Side elected officials and their representatives:
State Senator Bill Perkins
Congressman Jerrold Nadler

Community Board 7 Preservation Committee and Full Board, represented by Mark Diller and Gabriel Palitz

Neighborhood and preservation advocates:
West End Preservation Society, represented by Richard Emery, president
Mary Dierickx, architectural historian and preservation consultant
Prof. Andrew Scott Dolkart, architectural historian and Director of the Historic Preservation program at Columbia University
Historic Districts Council, represented by Nadezhda Williams, Dir. of Preservation and Research
LANDMARK WEST!, represented by Kate Wood, Executive Director
Coalition for a Livable West Side, represented by Batya Lewton
West 80s Neighborhood Association, represented by Melissa Elstein
New York Landmarks Conservancy

And more!
Francoise Bollack, architect and professor in Columbia University's Historic Preservation program
Mosette Broderick, Director of the Urban Design and Architectural Studies program at NYU
Cynthia Doty, district leader for Three Parks Democrats and all-round neighborhood advocate

And the many, many other residents, business and property owners, and visitors to the Upper West Side who testified on the record.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Community: YES! We Support West End Avenue Historic District Extension!

By Cristiana P.

The hearing room was filled to capacity (and beyond!) yesterday as the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) held the first of, ultimately, three public hearings to seriously consider historic district extensions on West End Avenue.

West Side residents and business and property owners, community advocates, and those who recognize the value of preserving our city's architectural resources came out in force to show their support of the proposed Riverside Drive-West End Avenue Historic District Extension I.  Following a call to order by Chair Robert Tierney of the LPC and a brief overview of the proposed extension's history by LPC Research Department staff (Maryann Percival and Mary Beth Betts), the hearing was opened to the public.

The LPC public hearing room (and the ante room beyond!) filled to capacity!

Over the course of the public hearing--lasting nearly three hours--close to fifty people addressed the LPC.  Together, our overwhelming presence and testimony sent the message loud and clear: The community supports expanded landmark designation on West End AvenueTo all of our friends and neighbors who came to the LPC; who waited patiently as the West End Avenue hearing was delayed; who took to the podium to testify; who sat as "silent supporters" of the West End Avenue proposal; who wrote emails and letters in absentia; and who helped spread the word about yesterday's public hearing far and wide ...

... THANK YOU!  This tremendous effort could not have been such a success without your dedication and support.  Extra-special thanks to our colleagues at the West End Preservation Society (WEPS, under the incomparable leadership of Richard Emery and Erika Petersen) and the league of other West Side neighborhood groups for rallying their friends and neighbors living, working and owning property in the proposed district extensions.  Sincere thanks as well to our elected officials for their strong support of this important issue.

Left to right: Council Member Gale Brewer, LW! Executive Director Kate Wood, and
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer each testify before the LPC in support of the designation.
The journey is far from over! The LPC will take into consideration the range of testimony provided at public hearing yesterday (as well as letters and emails submitted) and continue their outreach to the community before they make any final decision.  As soon as the LPC releases additional information about their next action on this proposed extension, LANDMARK WEST! will sound the alert.  Stay tuned!

But we're certainly not resting on our heels in the meantime.  As the LPC continues to work through "next steps" for the Riverside Drive-West End Avenue Historic District Extension I, we must begin to rally for the second of these West End Avenue public hearings!  On Tuesday, June 28th, the LPC will hold a public hearing for the West End-Collegiate Historic District Extension (encompassing West 70th to 79th Streets, anchored by West End Avenue).  Stay tuned for more information on this public hearing, as well as public information sessions in advance of this event.

In the meantime, if you haven't already ...

Add your name to the list of those who support the West End Avenue historic district extensions.  The petition will be submitted to the LPC at next Tuesday's public hearing.

Couldn't make the public hearing?  Stay tuned to our YouTube channel for video of the public testimony and, for photos, to our Flickr photostream. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Landmarking by the Numbers

More work and less resources--so continues the saga of the LPC's funding history.  At public hearing of the City Council's Land Use Committee, LPC leadership presented a preliminary budget for FY 2012.  The jist: with less staff and insufficient funds ... we'll figure it out.
Personnel  is DOWN.
          61:  Number of staff persons at the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)
                  (Does not include the 11-member expert commissioners who review proposals
                  at public hearing on a volunteer basis).

             3: Reduction in number of staff (through attrition) at the LPC going into 
                  Fiscal Year 2012.

Funding is DOWN.
 $4.79 million: Proposed FY 2012 budget of the LPC.

                 8%: Percentage cut for the LPC's FY 2012 budget from the FY 2011 budget.

Workload is UP.
      9,229: Number of permits issued in Fiscal Year (FY, meaning July 1 to June 30) 2010.  
                  That's an average of nearly 770 permits issued every month.

      6,824: Number of applications received (not all necessarily processed) by 
                  February 2011 for FY 2011.  With four months left in the year and 
                  an average of 770 permits issued, it's fair to assume FY 2011 will yield 
                  about 9,904.  A 7% increase in the number of applications demanding 
                  LPC staff energies and resources.

Council members Leroy Comrie (Chair, Land Use
Comm.) and Brad Lander (Chair, Subcommittee
on Landmarks) listen to the LPC's presentation.
LPC Chair Robert Tierney and Executive Director Kate Daly shared with the Land Use Committee, chaired by Council member Leroy Comrie, a laundry list of FY 2010 success stories (more designations in the outer boroughs this year than during any other in the agency's 45 year history) and 2011 goals (anticipated launch of publicly accessible informational database to increase the LPC's transparency and make info more readily available to the public).  All this was achieved on an already-tight budget.

LPC funding has recently been on the minds and lips of the city-wide preservation community, as the LPC proposed--and on March 8th approved--increases in the LPC's application fees.  Neither at past public hearings, when pressed by the public, nor today before the Land Use Committee did the LPC connect fee increases to the LPC's budget.

LPC Chair Robert Tierney and Exec. Dir. Kate Daly present
their Fiscal Year 2012 budget to the Land Use Committee.
Chair Tierney submitted a preliminary FY 2012 budget of $4,799,376.  That's an 8% drop from the FY 2011 budget of just over $5.23 million (as available via the Office of Management and Budget's website).  The LPC's designations only continue to expand the New York City landmarks family--indeed, the proposed West End Avenue historic district extensions to be heard by the Commission this year would add another 800+ buildings to their stewardship roster.

LW! testified before the Land Use Committee, stating our strong support of a well-funded LPC.  We directly recommended a budget increase of $1 million.  The Historic Districts Council appeared before the Land Use Committee as well, underscoring the minimal resources appropriated to the LPC and the immense volume of work set before it.  HDC Executive Director Simeon Bankoff urged the Committee to seriously consider a meaningful budget increase to the LPC, noting that other city agencies such as the Dept. of Information Technology and Telecommunications (also presenting their preliminary FY 2012 budget to the Land Use Committee) have budgets up to 100 times as large as that of the Landmarks Commission.  

Rounding out the public testimony portion of the hearing was Claudette Brady from the Bedford Corners Historic District Joint Block Association (located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn).  Her community, she reported, has become energized by the landmark possibilities.  The LPC's research department identified approximately 8,500 buildings in the neighborhood that merit landmark consideration, she continued.  While the all-volunteer group has secured the support of nearly all their elected officials, the fear that a reduction in LPC resources would lead to a loss of momentum is very real.

In the past, HDC noted, the City Council has been able to make increases to the tune of $500,000 to the LPC's budget.  That's 10% of their proposed FY 2012 budget.  Can the Land Use Committee and the City Council do it again?  Better yet, can they best themselves?  Stay tuned ...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

West End Avenue, Part I :: Hearing to consider historic district extensions approaches

West End Avenue, between 79th and 87th Streets, considered in the first of three public hearing
Tell your neighbors!  Tell your friends!  In less than two weeks, we tell the LPC!

On Tuesday, March 22nd, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will hold the first of three public hearings to consider historic district extensions on West End Avenue.  Your neighborhood needs you!  Spread the word and let others know about this important hearing.     

What you need to know:

  • Attending the Public Hearing
  • Contacting Your Elected Officials
  • Report of Recent Informational Breakfast Session
  • How to Stay Informed
Attend the Tuesday, March 22nd Public Hearing

      WHEN:   Tuesday, March 22nd; Time TBD* (announced by the LPC no later than Fri., March 18th) *LW! will keep you posted!

    WHERE:   Landmarks Preservation Commission; 1 Centre Street, 9th Floor

The LPC needs to hear from you.  So first ...

Sign the petition! Add your name to the list of those who support the West End Avenue historic district extensions.  The petition will be submitted to the LPC for the upcoming March 22nd public hearing. 

Second, please plan to attend the public hearing and to share your support with the Commission.  Your support can take the form of a personal testimonial or a written statement.  Either way, your presence is incredibly important and speaks volumes, even if you choose not to speak!  Make a statement or stand as a "silent supporter" of the West End Avenue historic district extensions.   

Write to Your Elected Officials

In early 2008, the West End Preservation Society (WEPS) secured a letter supporting expanded historic district protection on West End Avenue signed by elected officials within whose districts such landmarking would occur.  Please write or call their offices, thanking them for their early backing of this important issue, and requesting their continued commitment as the public hearings begin this month.  Not sure which elected officials' districts you're in?  Check here.

State Assembly Members Linda Rosenthal and Daniel O'Donnell
City Council Members Gale Brewer, Inez Dickens and Melissa Mark-Viverito

REPORT from the FIELD: Informational Breakfast Answers Many Neighbors' Questions

To help our fellow West Siders learn more about the landmark designation process, and specifically the March 22nd public hearing of the LPC, LANDMARK WEST! co-sponsored, along with a league of neighborhood groups and preservation advocates, Living with Landmarks, a neighborly Q&A informational breakfast.  For those who couldn't make the morning session, head to our YouTube channel (video coming soon!)!   
LW! Executive Director Kate Wood welcomes the audience to the morning's discussion.
Click here for more pictures
Held this past Wednesday, March 9th, at 8AM, the breakfast kicked-off with welcome remarks from LW! Executive Director Kate Wood and Richard Emery, Esq., of WEPS.  Next, a lively and informative presentation by Prof. Mosette Broderick, Director of the Urban Design and Architecture Studies program at New York University, on the history and development of the Upper West Side.  Following Prof. Broderick, the audience of nearly 100 heard from residents of existing historic districts, to hear from them first-hand what living in a landmark neighborhood has meant.  Finally, breakfast co-sponsors came together for the Q&A portion of the morning.

Breakfast co-sponsors include:

Stay Informed and Spread the Word!

A historic district recognizing the architectural richness of West End Avenue and Riverside Drive has long been a landmark "Wish List" priority for LANDMARK WEST!  The proposed extensions would weave together five smaller, existing historic districts along West End Avenue and take in eight individual buildings that have long been on LW's "Wish List" of landmark priorities (including the First Baptist Church at 79th and Broadway and the Cliff Dwelling apartments at Riverside Drive and 96th Street).

On September 15, 2010, the LPC held a community meeting at which they revealed a draft of their "West End Avenue Study Areas" (watch video of the meeting on our YouTube page).  This was the public's first look at the area the LPC is considering for landmark designation. The new historic district extensions would include nearly 800 buildings (click here for a map of the entire area).

The proposed expansion is being considered at Public Hearing in three parts*:

West End Avenue between 79th and 87th Streets:
Public Hearing at the LPC: Tuesday, March 22

West End Avenue between 70th and 79th Streets:
Public Hearing at the LPC: Tuesday, June 28

West End Avenue between 89th and 109th Streets:
Public Hearing at the LPC: Tuesday, October 25

*All three areas are anchored by West End Avenue and extend to Riverside Drive and Broadway in most, but not all, locations.

For specific questions about owning a home or apartment in a historic district and the regulatory process, call LANDMARK WEST! at 212-496-8110.  Our sincerest thanks go to the West End Preservation Society (WEPS) for their stalwart advocacy!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

GUEST BLOG :: Preservation, the Next Generation

A Guest Blog, Reported by Will Vogel

Last weekend (March 4-6) the Historic Districts Council (HDC) continued celebrating “40 years of activism” with their annual preservation conference: Looking Forward, Looking Back: Forty Years of Preserving New York City Neighborhoods. The theme of the three day conference was to explore and celebrate grassroots preservation through a comprehensive overview of how local residents have campaigned to save their neighborhoods from neglect, deterioration and over-development since 1971!

The conference kicked off with a bang Friday night with the Opening Night Reception, hosted by the General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen.  LW's Debi and Cristiana were there (as you may have heard via our Twitter feed), trading war stories with colleagues throughout the city, educating folks on our current "top priority" advocacy campaigns, and learning what other issues neighborhood groups like us are tackling.  A fun mix of business and educational pleasure!

Picking up early Saturday morning (8:30AM = dedicated to the cause!), the conference was back in full swing with preservationists coming from all over the five boroughs to St. Francis College, (just outside the heard-but-not-designated Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District in beautiful downtown Brooklyn--more here!)  Leading the charge was architectural historian extraordinaire Francis Morrone, with an informative chronicling of the political and cultural environments that has existed in New York City over the past 45 years (since the Landmarks Preservation Commission was established in 1965). 

Next to the podium was Eric Allison, chair of the Historic Preservation program at Pratt Institute, and previous president of HDC, paralleling Francis' remarks with a lecture detailing how this climate--ripe with change--set the perfect stage for the advancement of the preservation movement. To provide insight on the people behind the movement, Dr. Marjorie Pearson didn’t just monotonously list the movers and shakers name by name.  Rather, Dr. Pearson sang their praises, in true LW! fashion (seriously, we can be quite melodic when it comes to honoring the proverbial little guys who make change happen). 

From the speakers to the audience to the volunteers (many of them students!), there were many different generations of preservationists in attendance.  All agreed that while looking back at a movement that has been going strong in New York City for 45 years may bring some hard memories to the surface, the future of preservation is ultimately bright.  And who better to convey that than LW!'s own Executive Director, Kate Wood!  Read on ...

Post-lunch, two breakout sessions allowed for a more intimate conversation about what can be learned from a successful advocacy campaign in the current preservation climate. One discussion featured Andrew Berman and his efforts in Greenwich Village as Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation; the other discussion featured LW!’s 25 years of fighting "the good fight" on the Upper West Side, as recounted by our own Kate Wood (obviously yours truly sought to show support for the latter--guilty as charged!). 

The theater was filled with friends old and new as Kate wove together the past and present history of LW!. Our past: A quarter century of feisty advocacy, born from the passion of our founder, Arlene Simon, and fueled by the energies of a small (but nimble!)  staff and dedicated volunteers. Our present: A Kickstarter-funded venture into the world of mobile technology with an iPhone app. Our explanatory project video (informational and playful, wouldn't you agree?) inspired folks from across the globe to support our project and help us reach (and ultimately surpass) our goal! In December 2010, LW! launched the FIRST EVER iPhone app walking tour of Manhattan’s Upper West SideMore than a dozen countries and 500+ downloads later, the rich history of our neighborhood continues to educate and inspire! With Kate's conclusion, an alert crowd jumped into action for a Q&A exchange.

Two additional breakout sessions--addressing the preservation of Staten Island's historic resources, and the campaign to designate Sunnyside Gardens in Queens--concluded the conference's Saturday programming.  The following day, Sunday, March 6, conference attendees found themselves exploring all five boroughs with a suite of walking tours. 
The 17th Annual HDC Preservation Conference offered a bit of everything, leaving no one in want.  Except for when it ended--many wanted more! Thankfully, it not need to end there. Check back here to our blog often, or subscribe to LW! email news alerts, as we keep you informed of walking tours, lectures, conferences, and other activities taking place on the Upper West Side ... and beyond!

Friday, March 4, 2011

UPDATE from the FIELD :: Fight for the Right ... to Participate!

This past Tuesday morning, the Landmarks Preservation Commission convened to review proposed amendments to their Rules and to hear public testimony on this matter.  LANDMARK WEST! was there, along with many of our preservation advocacy colleagues, representatives of community boards, neighbors’ groups, and more.

One by one, we took to the podium to comment on the impact the proposed amendments could have on landmark stewardship throughout the five boroughs.  One common theme became the mantra on many lips: the landmark review process serves the public, and the public cannot support amendments that remove it from the stewardship process.

There was no discussion among the Commissioners following public testimony—that will come at a later, “to be determined” date.  But the record remains open!  You still have the opportunity to be heard on this issue!  General Counsel Mark Silberman noted that the record on this item will be held open for 10 business days (as of Tuesday, March 1).  Forward your statement to and LPC Chair Robert Tierney at (please cc me at!), and stay tuned for news on when the next public hearing or meeting will be!

Couldn’t make the public hearing?  Visit our YouTube page to watch the hearing and listen to the questions and concerns born from this proposal.  For LANDMARK WEST's statement on both the proposed Rules amendments, and the proposed fee increases, click here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Month of Landmark Love

More Than Just Slush and Cold:  Keeping Cozy with Landmark Love!

(Cupid comes from; UWS from

Well my darlings, another February has come and gone, and we here at LANDMARK WEST! are so excited about the outpouring of love we saw for all of your favorite Upper West Side places and spaces (and those beyond!)! 

Your submissions ranged from some of New York's most iconic buildings to the local haunts that have become an inextricable part of our neighborhood's landscape, showing off not only the richness of the area's architectural character but also a deep appreciation for all the places that make the Upper West Side so unique. We've said it before and we'll say it again: There's a lot to love here!
This month has been a swoon-worthy tour of some of the most loved places in our little corner of the borough, with submissions from sweethearts cuddling in Central Park to precocious New Jersey natives getting creative to groups of friends showing their favorite neighborhood cafe some love. The age-old New York-Chicago rivalry was reignited in the name of landmark love, with a little friendly competition (thanks to the good folks at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and their enviable Twitter following [@chiarchitecture]), bringing submissions to celebrate the best of both cities.  We, the LW! staff, couldn't help but get in on the action ourselves, showing our love for local favorites like the Ansonia, IRT Powerhouse, and Broadway Fashion Building, among others. 

Of course, the love doesn't end now that February is over. We would argue that New York in the spring is perhaps even more lovable than New York in the winter, so why not take some time to see the city with fresh eyes? Take a stroll, have a picnic, go to a museum, get involved- you might see something you never noticed before, and you just might find yourself falling in love all over again.

It's been beautiful to see all your favorite spaces! Thanks for submitting, and let's make sure to keep our community wonderful for years to come! 


Mary N. (intern, graduate student) and all the folks at LANDMARK WEST!

Love Your Landmark #18 - West-Park Presbyterian Church


West-Park Presbyterian Church
165 West 86th Street at Amsterdam Avenue

From Rev. Bob Brashear and the congregants of West-Park, some landmark love

To learn more about the congregation, visit their blog, the West-Park Press.
To learn more about the 2010 designation of the church, click here.

Love Your Landmark #17 - Master Building

Master Building
310-312 Riverside Drive

 The Master Building is one of the best Art Deco apartments on the Upper West Side. I love all the beautiful detailing!


Katherine Malishewsky
Graduate Student, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation

P.S. One of the best Art Deco apartments, you say? To learn more, read about this designated Individual Landmark on the Landmark West! database!