Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lovers of Open Space, Speak Up!

First, the folks at Historic Districts Council (HDC) handed you the mic to voice your opinion on New York City's open spaces.  Now, they're giving us all -- that includes YOU! -- one more chance to help inform their upcoming annual conference, this year titled "The Great Outside: Preserving Public and Private Open Spaces".

Before Friday, February 10th, head to the HDC blog and fill out their "Request for Information".  Answer questions like ...

Why do you think open spaces matter?  How are open spaces threatened?

After you've shared your comments, be sure to RSVP for the conference, taking place March 2-4th.  Attending HDC's annual conference is a terrific way to learn about preservation efforts taking place city-wide, and an opportunity to share information about your own ongoing preservation campaigns.  

We'll see you in March to celebrate "the Great Outside"!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Spotlight on Education: As masons, tour guides, and advocates, interns experience architecture and preservation

At LW!, education is key.  Be it through walking tours, slide lectures, building research "how-to"s, design assistance, or our award-winning youth education program Keeping the Past for the Future -- sharing and celebrating the history and richness of the Upper West Side with our friends and neighbors is central to our mission.

Throughout the year, we welcome to our team a small handful of interns.  Many are current graduate students (like guest blogger Kate Gilmore), learning the preservation, planning and advocacy ropes "on the ground".  More recently, we've added to our ranks high school-aged interns from the Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design.

Working with these students has been a tremendous experience for interns and LW! staff alike!  In addition to helping with "behind the scenes" projects, like updating our Online Buildings Database or taking photos, we've encouraged our WHSAD interns to engage with our membership right here on our blog.  2011 intern Ingrid partnered with Kate G. and wrote some of her own, original content -- check it out!

We're looking forward to meeting and working with more WHSAD interns in 2012 and can't say enough great things about the program.  In addition to LW!, organizations like the World Monuments Fund, A. Ottavino Corp. Stoneworks, Historic House Trust, Park Avenue Armory, and Green-Wood Cemetery have opened their doors to these impressive students.  

But, as the expression goes, don't take our word for it.  Check out the video below, featuring WHSAD interns (including our very own Ingrid!) in the field and in action.

Interested in partnering with WHSAD and hosting and intern?  We're happy to put you in touch; just email us!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

TONIGHT, Open Mic for Open Spaces, with Historic Districts Council

Courtesy of our friends and colleagues at the Historic Districts Council, you're getting your turn at the mic! Be a part of the discussion TONIGHT ...

Open Spaces, Open Voices
Wednesday, January 25th from 6:00 to 8:00pm
Jefferson Market Courthouse, New York Public Library Branch 
located at 425 6th Avenue in Manhattan

Sunnyside Garden Historic District
Grab the mike and tell HDC about the urban open spaces that matter to you! In order to best represent local communities citywide, we want to know what concerns you have about local public and private spaces. What challenges does a particular lot or park pose to your neighbors? How have you triumphed in preserving a garden or landscape? All are invited to share thoughts on public parks, plazas, streets and yards at Open Spaces, Open Voices. Attendees will be asked to voice their ideas in a moderated discussion with fellow neighborhood advocates.

The issues raised at the forum will shape the central topics for HDC’s upcoming conference titled The Great Outside: Preserving Public and Private Open Space in March. The theme for the 18th Annual Preservation Conference is inspired by increased pressure on the city’s green spaces due to overuse, development and neglect. Public and private open spaces and the environment created by the adjacency to buildings are top priorities as we plan for New York City’s future. Participants will explore what makes open space historically significant and how those elements of history can be protected in a changing city landscape. The panels will consider current pressures and threats to public or private open space.

FREE and Open to the Public; Registration required. 
Email sromanoski@hdc.org or call 212-614-9107 to reserve a space. 
Space is limited.
For more information or to rsvp please call 212-614-9107
For information about past conferences click here

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year, from LW!

Monday, January 16, 2012

In Service of Our Landmarks: Looking back at MLK Day volunteer initiatives

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr., National Day of Service.  Today is a special opportunity for us to think about how we can lend our energies to the people, places and organizations in our communities who could use a bit of help.  Whatever kind of service project you're interested in, you can likely find something in your neighborhood to match.

LW! is dedicated -- every day -- to helping those in our neighborhood navigate the ins and outs of landmark regulations and designation.  We're always here to answer questions (Is my building a landmark? How can I be involved in the public review process? What are landmark-worthy buildings in my neighborhood?).  And in 2010, for the National Day of Service, we took our daily advocacy efforts to the streets, in service of educating West Siders (and visitors thereof) about the "landmark in waiting" in their midst: West-Park Presbyterian Church.

In the company of dedicated volunteers and passionate interns, we fanned out across the West-Park neighborhood (the intersection of West 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue) to hand out flyers about this important resource.  West-Park has since been landmarked, and the church is regularly host to exciting and engaging community activities (follow the "West-Park" label here on our blog.  

Then, in 2011, we encouraged friends and neighbors to, on the National Day of Service, "give back" to the locally-owned businesses that give the West Side such unique character.  We want to hear from you: "What service projects did (or do you plan to) participate in this year?"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

From Palm Court to Preservation Hideaway: The Hotel Endicott

One week from today, 446 Columbus Avenue will become the site of a friendly fiesta to celebrate 75 years of a West Side MVP (that's "Most Valuable Preservationist"): Arlene Simon!

Before "La Noche Cubana" takes over next Thursday, January 19, let's get to know the venue a bit better, shall we? 

446 Columbus Avenue, the Hotel Endicott, photographed
in 1990 at the time of its designation in the
Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District.

446 Columbus Avenue is also known as the Hotel Endicott.  Now, as diligent preservationists, we wouldn't normally settle for citing Wikipedia as a source, but when a bibliography basically includes all New York Times mentions of a building since 1902, we can't help ourselves! 

"The original hotel was built by Charles A. Fuller and designed by [architect] Edward L. Angell, who also designed several other prominent buildings on the Upper West Side*. The hotel was originally intended to be an apartment house, the Endicott. The original plans filed in April 1889 called for two buildings, each with 44 families and seven stories high. But the initial plans were not approved by the Building Department. After several changes to the plans, the Endicott began construction in 1889 at a cost of over $1,500,000. The first building on 81st Street for 52 families was finished in 1890; the second building on 81nd street for 72 families opened in 1891. 

"When the hotel opened, it was described as "in all respects, the finest and best appointed in this part of the city." The Hotel was built of Pompeian brick and terra cotta and boasted many modern marvels of its day including steam heat, lighting by its own electric plant, and good ventilation. The original decor was elaborate, sporting marble tile and onyx wainscoting. The original hotel included a glass-roofed Palm Room (pictured below) ... "

The original Palm Court in the Hotel Endicott, 1907.
Courtesy of Robert C. Quinlan.

Which brings us back to "La Noche Cubana".  Our birthday bash for Arlene Simon will take place in what was originally the Hotel Endicott's light-filled Palm Court.  Until recently the space had been home to the restaurant Calle Ocho.  The aura of the "Land of Spirit" lingers on, and is the inspiration for our own Cuban-themed festivities.

"La Noche Cubana" would not be possible without the generous donation of space by the building's owner, Robert C. Quinlan.  Rather than let the location sit unused and vacant, as 446 Columbus Avenue awaits a new tenant, Mr. Quinlan has opened the doors to LW! for our event.  Talk about creative dedication to ones community and to celebrating neighborhood preservation!

*Search and discover more buildings by Edward L. Angell in the LW! Online Buildings Database!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

At West-Park Church, the Heat is On!

West-Park Presbyterian Church*
As temperatures on the West Side begin to drop low, low, low, the heat at landmarked West-Park Presbyterian Church is going up, up, up!!

LW! learned some BIG NEWS this morning, courtesy of our friends at the West End Preservation Society (WEPS): the beleaguered boiler at West-Park has been replaced and the church's heat is ON!  

From WEPS ...

Last night ... WEPS met and chatted with Rev. Dr. Jane S. Galloway, who preaches at West-Park Church. "Last Sunday, I couldn't figure out what was different, and then I  realized: I wasn't cold!" She praised the new boiler and the efforts of Council Member Gale Brewer, whose dogged determination generated the means and money to get the boiler functioning in the only-recently Landmarked  Building.  Gale's newsletter makes the  announcement, but just in case you missed it, here's the good news: "West  Park Presbyterian Church, 165 West 86 Street, has a working “green” boiler and has heat! Much thanks to West Siders, preservation groups, and Community Board 7 as well as the Dept. of Buildings and ConEd for expediting their inspection schedules. Now we can work toward getting the roof repaired and the scaffolding removed." Thanks  to the New York Landmarks Conservancy for being point-man on the money collection  and in its advocacy for the building. And thank you, Gale, for your tireless efforts in behalf of the well-being, warmth, and preservation of the best of the Upper West Side. 

The interior of West-Park, as seen during the December 2010 volunteer clean up,
organized by Preservation Alumni, West-Park, LW!, Friends of West-Park, and many more.

Together, we -- the community -- have done it!  To all of our friends and neighbors who responded to LW!'s October 2011 call for donations, THANK YOU!  Every penny counts ... and 250,000 pennies (that's $2,500!) made a real difference in helping the West-Park congregation and leadership to meet its fundraising goal.

West-Park has already been host to an amazing collection of public programs.  With the heat now on, we're eager to see the events continue!  For more on upcoming events, stay tuned to our blog (follow the "West-Park" label!) and the calendar for The Centre at West-Park. 

READ MORE: "West-Park Presbyterian Church's New Boiler Boosts Temps, Spirits" by DNA Info's Leslie Albrecht 

* West-Park Presbyterian Church is located on Amsterdam Avenue at West 86th Street.  Architect Leopold Eidlitz designed the original chapel in 1884, followed by architect Henry F. Kilburn's church addition in 1890.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ye Olde Upper West Side

Monday is all about looking forward.  What meetings do we have this week?  What public hearings are scheduled?  What progress are we hoping to make on any particular project?  But this week, why not kick things off with a look back? To the Upper West Side of days past!

Columbus Circle in 1892.
Caption by NYTimes; Photo by Museum of the City of New York.

As we reported in November, 2011 marked 200 years of life on the NYC grid.  Last week, the New York Times ran a great piece, complemented by wonderful historic images, of the development of our city's underlying grid.  The Times' article announces a exhibition put on by the Museum of the City of New York entitled "The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011".

Where once were farmhouses now automobiles reign supreme and apartment blocks tower over sidewalks.  Most interesting for this West Side office were the images of Columbus Circle (above) and Riverside Drive (below).  It's hard to believe there was a time when the Circle was not a gilded homage to all things Trump and a destination of hyper commerce!  And as for Riverside Drive ... farmland and Hudson River views for miles and miles!

Houses at Riverside Drive and 94th Street in 1890.
Caption by NYTimes; Photo by the Museum of the City of New York.

Happy Monday to all!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Here Comes Havana! :: "La Noche Cubana" tickets still available!

Because of all she's done for our West Side neighborhoods, and to celebrate her 75th birthday, LW! is throwing a party in honor of our President and founder, Arlene Simon!

Because we are so grateful to YOU, our readers, for following our goings on via our blog, we're offering you a 10% discount to the soiree!  Read on to find out how to get your special blog-friendly discount!

In honor of the 75th birthday of founder Arlene Simon (born in Dec. 1936!),
escape with LANDMARK WEST! to "the Land of Spirit" here on the Upper West Side!

Thursday, January 19, 2012 8-10 p.m.
446 Columbus Ave. (81st-82nd Sts.)
$75, $50 for students & young professionals
*10% discount for LW! blog readers
 Toast Arlene with sangria, make merry with a mojito, taste the flavors of Cuba, take to the floor and tango, channel the spirit of 1930s Havana...  
To purchase or reserve tickets, contact us at (212) 496-8110 or pay online at
*For blog reader discount, enter code "LWBLOG10" 
100% of proceeds benefit LANDMARK WEST!, the feisty non-profit founded by Arlene in 1985,
recognizing her 26 years (and counting!) of "creative volunteering" on behalf of the Upper West Side