Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

 

Environment

Historic Preservation in NYC



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Forty years ago this week, Mayor Robert Wagner signed a bill establishing the landmarks law and forming the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The legislation and new city agency were created in response to a growing concern about the loss of historically, culturally, and architecturally significant places like Pennsylvania Station, which was demolished in 1963. To date, the commission has designated 1,119 individual landmarks and 83 historic districts, totaling 23,000 buildings.

But some argue that the landmarks law is not living up to its promise and much more must be done to save the city’s historic places.

Some buildings are threatened by new development. Other structures are at risk because owners do not have the financial resources - or refuse to spend the money - needed to maintain them. Decisions about the future of other sites are stalled by local politics.

“While 40 years of landmark preservation is indeed cause for celebration, many preservationists are not in any mood to pop open the champagne,” Kate Wood of the group Landmarks West wrote in an article for Gotham Gazette.

Here are ten sites in New York City – buildings, houses, churces, a shipyard, and even a swimming pool – that preservation groups are trying to save for future generations of New Yorkers.

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