Monday, April 30, 2012

Say It Loud: "People Want Preservation"!

Our landmarks -- and our Landmarks Law -- need us!City Council announces public hearing for bills proposing RADICAL CHANGES to the Landmarks Law! Preservation advocates received the following hearing notification late last week:
 Council Member Brad Lander

I am writing to inform you about a joint hearing that the City Council’s Committee on Housing & Buildings and Committee on Land Use will be holding next week, Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 10:00 AM at 250 Broadway, 14th Floor.

The hearing will cover a number of bills regarding the Landmarks Preservation Commission and landmarked buildings.  The official agenda with links to the bills being heard is available by clicking here.  The agenda will be updated and bill numbers will be assigned once they are introduced at the Council’s Stated Meeting on Monday, April 30, so please check back on the hearing webpage on Monday afternoon for an updated agenda.

-Councilmember Brad Lander
 456 5th Avenue, 3rd Floor * Brooklyn, NY 11215 * 718-499-1090

As Friends of the Upper East Side wrote, calling their friends and supporters to action, "while the Landmarks Preservation Commission certainly needs reform, important policy changes should not be made in haste." Come to the hearing on Wednesday and let the City Council know that a handful of days' notice is not enough!!  More, below, from our colleagues and partners in preservation, the Historic Districts Council, on exactly how you can take action ...
Come to the hearing and testify in favor of preservation
    1. Even if the LPC hasn’t responded to your request for evaluation  (or especially if they haven’t), demonstrating to the Council members that ordinary New Yorkers want to preserve their communities and are crying out for help is a powerful statement. We need to show the Council that PEOPLE WANT PRESERVATION!
    2. If you have had work done on a landmarked property – please come in to talk about it. The Council members really don’t have any experience with actually working with LPC and will be taking everything the development industry says as gospel.
    3. If you are a preservation/design professional – showing up and explaining to the Council that Landmarking actually provides real value and jobs is a key thing.  The narrative which they will be hearing is “landmarking costs money”  and we need to shift that to “landmarking creates jobs”.
    4. Even if you do not want to testify, showing up with your posters/buttons/postcards/etc. is a powerful statement to the Council members. 
Contact your elected officials 
    1. Use the deadline of May 2nd to send in your Requests to LPC – and make sure to copy them to your elected official.  If LPC has not responded to your request, send in a reminder and copy your representative.  Show your Council member that people in their district want action from the agency.
To learn more about this emergent issue, contact LW! or our colleagues mentioned above, HDC and Friends of the Upper East Side.

Color Wheel 101 with the Experts at Farrow & Ball

On Wednesday, May 9, LANDMARK WEST! welcomes Farrow & Ball to their new Upper West Side location with an informational open house on their historically rooted and meticulously researched paints and wallpapers. 

Farrow & Ball Open House
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.
322 Columbus Avenue
(between West 74th & 75th Streets)
Please be our guest and join
Farrow & Ball for wine & cheese

Click here to RSVP (required) or email 

Noted for its vintage, environmentally-friendly paint and wallpaper, Farrow & Ball offers a range of elegant decorative and architectural finishes for your home.

Learn from experts on the best paint colors for different exposures. F&B staff will also discuss the history of the company, how their paints and wallpapers are made, and the origin of their color names.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Scenes from a Slide Lecture: From up in the air down to our blog

From "New York from the Air", by John Tauranac, a view of Central Park.

Yesterday, LW! gathered with friends and neighbors as John Tauranac shared with us a view of New York rarely seen by the average individual: New York from the air.  Images from Mr. Tauranac's book of the same name (photographed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand) raised us up off the sidewalks and into the sky, if only for the evening.  What a treat, to see our city from this new perspective!

Architectural historian Tony Robins welcomed our guests to the Macaulay Honors College (our generous hosts for the evening) and introduced John Tauranac, first, by way of his leadership in designing the 1979 New York City subway map.  As Mr. Robins mused:

"... that brings us to tonight’s talk, and John’s current venture.  Having largely exhausted the possibilities of charting the city’s pathways below ground with his subway maps, and at street level with his bus and block-by-block maps, John had only one way to grow: Upwards.  And so tonight we will sit back while John guides us on an aerial expedition floating above the tops of skyscrapers, as illustrated in his wonderful book, 'New York from the Air.'”
To read Tony Robins' full introduction, click here

And with that, we were airborne!  Throughout the slide lecture, we tweeted some of our favorite images.  Head to our feed now to check them out; a selection are shared here, too.  For copies of "New York from the Air", visit John Tauranac's website.

At the intersection of Court and Livington Streets in Brooklyn, Art Deco stonework
enlivens an apartment building.

Getting closer to our Upper West Side neighborhood, the Symphony House apartment building.

As soon as the Beresford Apartments flicked up onto the screen, our thoughts turned to
2011's inaugural Landmark Feast, for which the handsome building served as inspiring backdrop.

As we tweeted last night, we "cannot escape McKim Meade & White!".  Architects of
Low Library on Columbia University's campus were also the masters behind
the landmark-in-waiting IRT Powerhouse. 
Learn more about efforts to save the IRT Powerhouse here.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Let Them Be Unsung No More!

For more information on our honorees, the Beacon Theatre 
and Pasha Restaurant, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Share Your Stories: Remembering 2012's Unsung Heroes of the Upper West Side

On Thursday, June 12, 2012, LANDMARK WEST! will celebrate a band of worthy New Yorkers whose legacies live on.  These are our Unsung Heroes of the Upper West Side.  Their impressive works for historic preservation outlive them, continuing to shape the Upper West Side and our city for the better.  The 2012 "Unsung Heroes" are:

Robert Makla          Norman Marcus          Dorothy M. Miner
Nancy Spero         David F.M. Todd

Meet each of our honorees on our awards ceremony webpage, and learn about their contributions to the neighborhood and the preservation community.

Leading up to the awards ceremony, we want to hear from you!  Share with us your own memories of how these altruistic individuals made their mark in your community and in your life.  You can do so in the Comments of this blog, or email us at landmarkwest@landmarkwest.orgShare stories, share photos!

And please, help spread the word about this merry gathering to celebrate Bob, Norman, Dorothy, Nancy, and Davide.  Encourage colleagues, students, friends, and all who share with us an appreciation for these five heroes of preservation to join us on June 12th (details here).

Monday, April 16, 2012

Powerhouse News, via Save the Powerhouse blog

Seven to Save cocktail party
Monday, April 23, 2012 / 6PM to 8PM
The River Club, 447 East 52nd Street

In one week, the Preservation League of New York State will reveal its entire Seven to Save list of endangered sites for 2012-2013. This includes Manhattan's monumental former IRT Powerhouse, located on Eleventh Avenue at 59th Street in Manhattan! Join with preservationists from across the city and the state as we salute these heritage sites and kick-off efforts to secure their futures.

From inside the historic River Club, enjoy views of the James Renwick, Jr.-designed "Hospital Ruin" from 1856 (a Seven to Save selected site!) and the adjacent 2012 Louis Kahn-designed Four Freedoms Park, now under construction at Roosevelt Island. The evening's program will include:

                  6PM to 8PM: Cocktail Reception
                         6:30PM: Presentation of Seven to Save
                                      Remarks by honored guest Ambassador William vanden Heuvel,
                                      Chairman, Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, LLC

We hope to see you there! To read the League's announcement of the former IRT Powerhouse's listing among the Seven to Save, click here.

IRT Powerhouse, designed by architects McKim Mead & White, 1904.
11th Avenue at 59th Street.  Photo courtesy Tom Rinaldi.
for action steps and more...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Our Views on Architecture Take to the Sky

New York from the Air
An illustrated talk & book signing by John Tauranac
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 6 p.m.
Macaulay Honors College, 35 West 67th Street
$25, $15 for LW! members
or email for more information 

John Tauranac knows architectural New York, but even he was stumped by some of the subjects that the great aerial photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand shot for their newest book, New York from the Air: A Story of Architecture.

Tauranac takes it all with a sense of humor and more than a dash of humility as he discusses some of the mysteries with which he was presented. He will share the stories with you, and he'll show some of his favorite photographs from this glorious book and tell the tales behind them.

John Tauranac writes on New York's architectural history, teaches the subject, gives tours of the city, and designs maps. He also teaches New York history and architecture at NYU's School of Continuing & Professional Studies, where he is an adjunct associate professor. He was named a Centennial Historian of the City of New York by the Mayor's Office for his work in history in 1999, and he was awarded a Commendation for Design Excellence by the U. S. Department of Transportation and the National Endowment of the Arts in 1980 for his role as the design chief of the 1979 subway map.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Tribute to West Siders Isidor & Ida Straus

Commemorating the 100th Anniversary 
of the Sinking of the Titanic:
The History of Straus Park
Upper West Siders Isidor and Ida Straus
Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 2 p.m. at Straus Park
$12, free for LW! Members

Isidor and Ida Straus Memorial, Straus Park
On April 15, 1912, during its voyage from Southampton, England to New York City, the RMS Titanic sank to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an iceberg. The sinking of the Titanic took the lives of 1,514 people. In addition to familiar names such as Benjamin Guggenheim and John Jacob Astor IV, Upper West Siders Ida and Isidor Straus* (co-owner of Macy's) were among those who were lost in this tragic event.

Straus Park, located at 106th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue, serves as a memorial to Ida & Isidor Straus and also offers busy New Yorkers a quiet place to escape the hustle and bustle of the Upper West Side.

On April 15, 2012, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, join Gilbert Tauber, an urban planner and historian, and Al Berr of Friends of Straus Park for a talk on the history of the area and Straus Park. Also joining us will be descendants of Ida and Isidor Straus who will talk about the history of the Strauses and the sinking of the Titanic.

Click here to read yesterday's New York Times article, "100 Years Ago, a Disaster Captivated the City," for more information on the sinking of the Titanic.

*Read more about Ida Straus in our 


Other great LANDMARK WEST! events on the horizon - RSVP today!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 6 p.m.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Preservation in the Papers: More news on Save St. Vincent de Paul

Sanctuary of St. Vincent de Paul

"A French Church Nears Its End, but Not Without a Contretemps"  
By David W. Dunlap, April 5, 2012, 6:16 pm

Tossing a gauntlet as he delivered an Easter sermon in 1841 to the people of New York, Charles Auguste Marie Joseph, the bishop of Nancy and Toul in France, demanded:

"In this great city, where the Irish and German Catholics have recoiled from no sacrifice to have their own churches and priests, how is it that the French, so famous for the faith of their fathers, alone remain indifferent?" he asked. "How, in fact, can this nationality be long preserved in a foreign land without the powerful bond of religion?"

That is exactly what some parishioners are asking today as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York prepares to close the Church of St. Vincent de Paul at 123 West 23rd Street - the very church that emerged 170 years ago in response to the bishop's exhortation - and merge the French-speaking parish with the Church of St. Columba at 343 West 25th Street. No date has been set.
How will an unusually diverse body of Catholics from France, Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Switzerland, Togo and elsewhere maintain their connection with one another and with the mother church? What will keep them from dispersing, even if accommodated at St. Columba?

"The consequences are so grave, so overwhelming, they don't even want to hear about it," said Sylvestre Kouadio, a 51-year-old Ivorian taxi driver from the Bronx who directs the choir at St. Vincent. "The church has become a second home, a home away from home for Africans who speak French. This is the anchor." 

Click here for the full article and slide show at  Please post your comments!  

Click here to visit "Save St. Vincent de Paul" and here to read LW's previous e-blast on this issue.

Spotlight on Education: Upper West Side-Inspired Poetry!

One of the ways in which LW! engages UWS elementary students to become more aware of the architecture in their neighborhood is through the exploration and creation of poetry. In our popular program Neighborhood Poetry, third-graders spend time outside to write down observations about their neighborhood. In a whole-class effort, these observations are later mixed together with their classmates' and arranged into different poems. Below, enjoy some examples from the spring of 2012!

P.S. 87 students wrote about the buildings on West 78th Street:

P.S. 199 students sat near the Eleanor Roosevelt statue at the corner of Riverside Park, looking at the buildings on 72nd Street and Riverside Drive: 

P.S. 145 students wrote about the West End Presbyterian Church on Amsterdam Avenue and 105th Street (on LW's Wish List):  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Join the Committee; Protect the Neighborhood!

The Tavern on the Green, in Central Park, soon to be restored
and modified with a glass pavilion.  An example of a recent preservation issue focused on
by our C of A Committee (learn more below!).

In landmarks preservation, designation is just the beginning!  Learn more about "on the ground" landmark stewardship and how YOU can participate in neighborhood preservation!

OPEN HOUSE: Get to know (and consider joining!)

the LW! Certificate of Appropriateness Committee
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 6 p.m.
Macaulay Honors College (35 West 67th Street)
Join us -- admission is FREE; wine and light snacks will be served 
CheeseSticks generously provided by John Wm. Macy's CheeseSticks  
Click here to RSVP or email us at

Even the staunchest of preservationists knows that in vibrant communities, changes in the built environment are inevitable.  Landmarks are not frozen in time, and they depend on our constant stewardship for appropriate and sensitive maintenance and growth.

When owners of landmark buildings and sites wish to make changes, they need to apply to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for what's called a Certificate of Appropriateness (C of A).  LW's C of A Committee is an all-volunteer group that works with building owners and their architects, contractors and consultants to advise on design and protect the integrity of our constantly evolving neighborhood.  We welcome our friends and neighbors, architects, designers, historians, attorneys, real estate professionals ... anyone and everyone excited to volunteer their skills and expertise to the stewardship of the Upper West Side.

JOIN US on April 18th, meet current Committee members and others in the community who share your interest in neighborhood preservation! 

240 Columbus Avenue (then Victor's Cafe) at the time of its inclusion
in the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District in 1990.
These meetings culminate in testimony -- directly inspired by the input from our Committee members -- before the LPC, the Public Design Commission, and other public agencies and forums.  We "win" some, we "lose" some, but we always succeed in raising awareness about the history of our West Side neighborhood.   

A recent preservation issue -- and success story! -- has been 240 Columbus Avenue (formerly Victor's Cafe), at West 71st Street.  Thanks to collaborative efforts with the family of Victor del Corral, founder of the pioneering West Side restaurant, Victor's Cafe, a noteworthy bas relief mural on the 71st Street facade was saved from demolition.  This important layer of West Side history -- when Columbus Avenue and 71st Street was a destination for Cuban expatriates in New York City -- can be experienced and appreciated by future generations.  A new restaurant, Cafe Tallulah, is expected to open this Summer.  Click here to read more about our C of A Committee's work on this project.

Another recent issue of our Committee has been the Tavern on the Green in Central Park (pictured at the top of this post).  As we testified before the LPC:

"With this transition, LANDMARK WEST! is pleased to see the building's restoration needs being addressed.  Over dozens of years, the footprint of the Tavern on the Green gradually increased to accommodate larger private parties and seat more guests. Slowly but surely, the historic Jacob Wrey Mould-designed core was swallowed up by expanded kitchen facilities to the West and South, along with additional dining areas encased in greenhouse-like glass on the South and, famously, to the East in the form of the Crystal Room. With the removal of these egregious additions, the Tavern on the Green can once again breathe. And, perhaps more importantly, the public can fully experience and appreciate its architectural beauty in the landscape."  Read more here.

The proposal was ultimately approved by the LPC and the Public Design Commission, and the glass box will soon rise in the U-shaped courtyard of the Tavern.  Click here to read more about our work on this project.

JOIN US on Wednesday, April 18th, at 6PM for our first ever C of A Open House! The C of A Open House will be an opportunity for friends and neighbors to learn more about design review process and its essential role at LANDMARK WEST!.

Stanford White: The original "starchitect"

This week marks New York Magazine's 2nd Annual Yesteryear Issue.  Many in the LW! office are already regular NY Mag readers, but an issue focused primarily on history, with glimpses of architecture to boot?  Count us in!

via New York Magazine

The subject of the magazine this week is scandal, New York City style.  And wouldn't you know it, the 1906 death of architect Stanford White, of the illustrious firm McKim, Mead & White, is among those scandals documented (read more here!).

via National Park Service
Though his high-profile personal life and death were the focus of what newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst's publications dubbed the "Trial of the Century", Stanford White's professional legacy is no less astounding.

According to NY Mag's Lee Siegel, "Stanford White just about single-handedly invented the American facade."  One such facade was that of the former IRT Powerhouse, an Upper West Side "landmark in waiting" on West 59th Street at Eleventh Avenue.  This monument to Beaux-Arts style architecture was recently named to the Preservation League of New York State's "Seven to Save" list of endangered places.

After you've sated your appetite for scandal with the magazine article, learn more about Stanford White's firm's masterful IRT Powerhouse on the Save the Powerhouse blog.  

To dig deeper into the history of the firm, we recommend the book Triumvirate: McKim Mead & White - Art, Architecture, Scandal, and Class in America's Gilded Age by Mosette Broderick, architectural historian and Director of the Urban Design and Architecture Studies program at New York University.

Monday, April 2, 2012

That's Our Arlene!: LW! President and Founder shares inside look at West 67th Street

As Elizabeth Harris writes, "It's all very upstairs, downstairs -- except that it's upside down."

In today's New York Times online, take a peek at a former maid's room on West 67th and learn a bit about these tiny spaces, courtesy LW! president and founder Arlene Simon.

For the full article, click here.