Friday, December 14, 2007

Holiday Giving to Landmark West!

Dear Friend of LANDMARK WEST!:

If Leif Parson’s fun illustration looks familiar, you’ve probably received a copy of LW’s year-end fundraising letter in the mail.

Before you pop your check into the mail (and even if you already have), here are some suggestions of ways you can support LW!—and check one more thing off your 2007 to-do list!

· Use your IRA to contribute: Under the new IRA rollover rules, taxpayers older than 70 ½ can transfer IRA funds directly to LW!. The Pension Protection Act allows supporters to make gifts of up to $100,000 in 2007. This law is set to expire at the end of 2007, so act quickly!

· Make a gift of stock: LW! can accept gifts of stocks, bond, and other negotiable securities. Please call us for instructions.

· Use your credit card to contribute: Please call us at 212-496-8110 and, in just a few quick steps, we can process your credit card gift. It’s the “green” way to give – no paper involved!

· Give a matching gift: Make your contribution go even further. Ask your employer about its matching gift program.

Thank you very much for your continued friendship and support. Together, we can save the Best of the West!

Best wishes for the New Year,

Arlene Simon Kate Wood
President Executive Director

Friday, December 7, 2007

CB7 Votes No to All Seven Congregation Shearith Israel Zoning Variances

Life is short. Tuesday night's Community Board 7 (CB7) full board meeting was not (we're still recovering!). So, long story short, the full board voted to disapprove all 7 zoning variances sought by Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI) to build its proposed, 9-story, 105'-tall community house stacked with luxury condos on the brownstone midblock of West 70th Street.

The vote improved on the CB7 Land Use Committee's November 19 resolution, which disapproved 4 of the 7 variances, sending a strong signal to the Board of Standards and Appeals (which will hold its next public hearing on this application in February 2008) that CSI has yet to meet the burden of proof that could justify violating the low-rise, contextual R8-B zoning protecting this and other side-street midblocks on the Upper West Side.

Thanks to everyone who has participated in the public process up to this point. Your time, your energy and your vigilance continues to make a BIG difference for our community.

Gather your strength over the holidays. We'll need it in 2008!

Visit www.protectwest70.org for updates and new materials related to this community advocacy effort.

Friday, November 30, 2007

CSI: Report from 11/27 BSA Hearing

More and More Questions Raised About Congregation Shearith Israel's Condo Tower Plan

Congratulations, neighbors! The community made a strong showing on Tuesday, November 27, at the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), during the first of what may be several more public hearings concerning Congregation Shearith Israel's (CSI's) application to construct a 9-story, 105'-tall community house with 5 floors of luxury condominiums stacked on top. Don't let up the pressure! Please plan on attending Community Board 7's full board meeting on Tuesday, December 4, starting at 7:00 PM at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital, 1000 Tenth Avenue (West 58-59th Streets). The full board will vote on the resolution passed by CB7's Land Use Committee on November 19 rejecting 4 out of 7 zoning variances requested by CSI. Your continued vigilance and support is crucial to help seal this victory against the tower plan.

Here's what happened at the BSA: No vote was taken but CSI received the clear signal that its desire to "monetize" its real estate is not, in and of itself, an acceptable basis for the 7 zoning variances needed to build a tower on the brownstone midblock of West 70th Street. The matter was adjourned until February 12, 2008, after BSA Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan informed CSI's attorney Shelly Friedman that CSI has "a lot of work to do."

And so do we. We're ahead of the game and must continue to push hard. Every ally is important, but our elected officials are especially key. Senator Thomas Duane and Assemblyman Richard Gottfried both came out strongly against CSI's tower plan (their statements are posted at <www.landmarkwest.org/advocacy/70st.html). But where are Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Council Member Gale Brewer? Reach out to them! Tell them your position and ask them to tell you where they stand on this vital community issue. (Contact information provided below.)

Stay tuned to <http://www.protectwest70.org/ for the full BSA transcript and more information on the fight!

Urge Borough President Stringer and Council Member Brewer to state their positions:

Hon. Scott R. Stringer
Manhattan Borough President
1 Centre Street, 19th Floor
New York, NY 10007
P: 212-669-8300
F: 212-669-4900
Email: bp@manhattanbp.org

Hon. Gale A. Brewer
New York City Council Member
563 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10024
P: 212-873-0282
F: 212-513-7717
Email: brewer@council.nyc.ny.us

Contact them today!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Crucial Public Hearing on Shearith Israel Tower Proposal

Congregation Shearith Israel: Important Public Hearing at the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals

Don't miss tomorrow's absolutely crucial public hearing, Tuesday, November 27, starting at 1:30 PM at 40 Rector Street, 6th Floor (take the #1 subway down to Rector Street and walk west). Bring photo ID. Congregation Shearith Israel's application is estimated to come up by about 2:30 PM, so time yourself accordingly!

Remember, the BSA is the final word on whether Congregation Shearith Israel gets the 7 zoning variances it wants to build a 9-story, 105'-tall community house with 5 floors of luxury condominiums stacked on top. Even though Shearith Israel can accommodate all of its mission-related activities in an as-of-right building (without getting any special waivers or exemptions), it seeks to violate the low-rise, mid-block zoning that protects West 70th Street and many other blocks throughout the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District. Why? Profit.

Tomorrow is your opportunity to make your opposition heard loud and clear (even if you don't plan to speak, your presence will speak volumes). See you there!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Congregation Shearith Israel: Round 2

Round 2 for Congregation Shearith Israel Tower Plan at Community Board 7

Monday, November 19, at 7:00 PM is an important opportunity to make your voice heard before Community Board 7's (CB 7's) Land Use Committee as it considers Congregation Shearith Israel's application to construct a 105'-tall building stacking 5 floors of luxury condos on top of a new community house on the brownstone-scale midblock of West 70th Street. The meeting will take place at the American Museum of Natural History, West 77th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.

The fact that so many concerned citizens packed the house at CB 7's first meeting last month on this application truly made a difference! This time, it's even more important to show our strength since a vote is expected, a vote that may play a significant role in the review of this project by the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals, which will hold its hearing on Tuesday, November 27 (more information to come).

Please don't miss this opportunity to join your neighbors in holding the line against out-of-scale development in the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District, which is also protected by low-rise, contextual zoning. Shearith Israel is asking for no less than seven zoning variances allowing it to break the rules that all other property owners must follow. If approved, these variances would set the stage for more towers where they don't belong - on top of the New-York Historical Society or another nonprofit institution next door to you? The dam will be broken, on the Upper West Side and communities throughout the city where New Yorkers are fighting for their skies.

Showing up is just as important as speaking up, so please make every effort to attend on Monday, November 19!

For more background and testimony from previous meetings, please visit http://www.landmarkwest.org/advocacy/70st.html and http://www.protectwest70.org/.

Monday, November 12, 2007

West-Park Presbyterian: CB7 Supports Landmarks Hearing

Community Board 7 Supports A Landmarks Hearing for West-Park Presbyterian Church

Late on Wednesday night (November 7), after hours of discussion and impassioned public testimony, Community Board 7 voted overwhelmingly in support of a resolution calling on the Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold a public hearing on West-Park Presbyterian Church, West 86th Street’s imminently threatened Romanesque-style beauty. See below for the resolution approved by CB7’s Parks and Preservation Committee on November 1 and passed by the full board on November 7 (24 in favor; 4 opposed; 2 abstentions).

Thank you, CB7 and everyone who spoke up in support of landmark status, for taking this important first step. Help reinforce this message by going to http://www.petitiononline.com/westpark/petition.html and signing the West-Park online petition. Join the hundreds of people who have already signed, and please forward this link to your friends and neighbors.

Next, send a letter of support to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Robert B. Tierney, Chair of the Landmarks Commission, and key public officials (contact information below). Tell them what you want them to do—and, importantly, ask them to tell you specifically what they will to do get this church building landmarked. Please send LANDMARK WEST! copies of your letters and emails. Sample letters of support, along with additional information about the architecture and history of West-Park, are available on: www.landmarkwest.org/westpark.

Address letters to:
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
Fax: 212-788-2460

Honorable Robert B. Tierney
Chair, Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Fax: 212-669-7955
Email: comments@lpc.nyc.gov

And Send Copies to:
Honorable Jerrold Nadler
U.S. Congressman
201 Varick Street, Suite 669
NYC 10014
Email: jerrold.nadler@mail.house.gov
Fax: 212-367-7356
Phone: 212-367-7350

Honorable Gale A. Brewer
New York City Council Member
563 Columbus Avenue
NYC 10024
Email: gale.brewer@council.nyc.ny.us
Fax: 212-873-0279
Phone: 212-873-0282

Honorable Christine Quinn
City Council Speaker
224 West 30th Street, Suite 1206, NYC 10001
Email: quinn@council.nyc.ny.us
Fax: 212-564-7347
Phone: 212-564-7757

Honorable Scott Stringer
Manhattan Borough President
1 Centre Street, 19th Floor NYC 10007
Email: bp@manhattanbp.org
Fax: 212-669-4900
Phone: 212-669-8300

Honorable Eric T. Schneiderman
New York State Senator
80 Bennett Avenue, Ground Floor NYC 10033
Email: schneide@senate.state.ny.us
Fax: 212-928-0396
Phone: 212-928-5578

Honorable Linda B. Rosenthal
New York State Assembly Member
230 West 72nd Street, Suite 2F, NYC 10023
Email: rosentl@assembly.state.ny.us
Fax: 212-873-6520
Phone: 212-873-6368

Honorable Jessica S. Lappin
336 East 73rd Street (Suite C) NYC 10021
Email: lappin@council.nyc.ny.us
Fax: 212-442-5503
Phone: 212-788-6865


And:
LANDMARK WEST!
45 West 67th Street
NYC 10023
Email: landmarkwest@landmarkwest.org
Fax: 212-875-0209
Phone: 212-496-8110


The Community Board 7 Resolution (www.cb7.org)
Date: November 7, 2007
Committee of Origin: Parks & Preservation
Re: West-Park Presbyterian Church (Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street.)
Full Board Vote: 24 In favor 4 Against 1 Abstention 1 Present

The following facts and concerns were taken into consideration in arriving at our resolution:
1. West-Park Presbyterian Church at Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street unquestionably meets the criteria for designation as a New York City Individual Landmark. For reasons discussed in more detail below, West-Park merits landmark designation not only because of its architectural importance, but also because of its history as a catalyst for the longstanding tradition of liberal and cultural activism on the Upper West Side.

2. West-Park, designed by architect Henry F. Kilburn and built in 1890, is a unique survivor on the Upper West Side of a building in the Richardsonian Romanesque style of ecclesiastical architecture. Further, as noted by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in it Resource Evaluation on West-Park dated November 8, 2001: “The church retains an exceptionally high level of integrity of setting, design, materials, craftsmanship feeling and association on both the exterior and interior.” It is a boldly massed French Romanesque-inspired building with a massive tower anchoring it prominent corner.

3. Additionally, the easternmost section of the building, facing West 86th Street, is an adaptation of an 1884 chapel, which constituted West-Park’s original structure on the site, designed by Leopold Eidlitz, referred to by architectural historian Andrew Scott Dolkart in a statement dated March 2003 submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Commission as “one of the most important nineteenth-century architects working in New York, who “was also significant for his theoretical writings on architecture, structure and engineering.”

4. From the beginning, West-Park has embodied the spirit of social consciousness of the Upper West Side. Anson Phelps Atterbury, a socially-minded minister who translated Werner Sombart’s writings on socialism into English, became Pastor of what was then called the Park Presbyterian Church, raised the money to move the church from its prior, inadequate site to the current site, and, with the congregation, engaged Eidlitz to design the chapel building.

5. Among other notable activities in the 20th Century, West-Park was the first home of Joseph Papp’s Shakespeare Festival, the birthplace of God’s Love We Deliver and the West Side Food Pantry, the first church in New York City to support gay marriage, and the original home of West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH).

6. West-Park (for whatever reason), was not included in the Upper West Side-Central Park West Historic District designated in 1990, although the Landmarks Preservation Commission staff (as quoted by Christopher Gray in the “STREETSCAPES” column in the New York Times on January 10, 1988) had described it as a “superb” building in 1979. As a result, West-Park has been in imminent danger of partial or total demolition a number of times. The church is currently the subject of a development proposal that would destroy the Eidlitz portion of the building entirely, and would also modify the stairs and entrances on Amsterdam Avenue.

7. Community Board 7/Manhattan, believes that designation of West-Park as an Individual Landmark is an urgent issue not only in light of the development proposal to which it is immediately subject, but also in light of the development pressure on it generally, and the development pressure on other churches and non-profit institutions in the Upper West Side and other New York City locations.

BE IT RESOLVED that Community Board 7/Manhattan requests that the Landmarks Preservation Commission calendar an immediate hearing on the proposed designation of West-Park Presbyterian Church as an Individual Landmark.
Committee: 8-1-0-0. Board Members: 5-0-0-0.

Can One Woman (Still) Make A Difference?

At a recent public forum celebrating the legacy of writer and urban thinker Jane Jacobs, panelist Roberta Brandes Gratz (herself an influential author and member of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission) cited LW’s leadership (yours truly) among examples of women who are making a real difference today. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Jane Jacobs led the charge, among others, to defeat the Lower Manhattan Expressway that would have ripped the heart out of the Village and SoHo. Big shoes but, all modesty aside, LW! fills them in a way Jacobs herself might have applauded.

Friday, November 2, 2007

West-Park Presbyterian Church: Landmark Status Update

Near Unanimous Vote to Consider West-Park Presbyterian Church for Landmark Status

Last night, by a near unanimous vote, Community Board 7’s Parks & Preservation Committee passed a resolution calling on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold a public hearing to consider West-Park Presbyterian Church (86th St. & Amsterdam Ave.) for designation as an official NYC Individual Landmark!

A final vote on the resolution is due on Wednesday, November 7, at CB7’s Full Board Meeting. The time is 7:00 PM and the location is the Jewish Home & Hospital, 120 West 106th Street (for schedule updates, visit www.cb7.org). Stay strong! Please make every effort to attend!

The Committee vote was a bold and timely move by CB7 to secure the future of a building that, although called “one of the architecturally most distinguished and historically most important of Manhattan’s surviving Nineteenth century churches,”* has stood in the shadow of possible demolition ever since it was cut out of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District in 1990. Back then, church leaders blocked this magnificent structure from being landmarked. But last night, CB7 decided that West-Park’s time had come.

Thank you, CB7 and everyone who attended last night’s meeting to testify in support of preserving this remarkable anchor of our neighborhood’s past, present and, we hope, future. Your continued vigilance is critical! If you haven’t already, go to http://www.petitiononline.com/westpark/petition.html to sign the online petition urging the Landmarks Commission to hold a public hearing right away!

The time is now to write letters directly to the Landmarks Commission. Hard-copy, personalized letters always work best. For inspiration please visit LW’s website (see link below). Send your letters to:

Hon. Robert B. Tierney, Chair
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007
F: 212-669-7955
Email: comments@lpc.nyc.gov (not a direct email, so please make the effort to mail/fax a hard copy of your letter as well)

And copy the elected officials listed below and Landmark West:

Honorable Jerrold Nadler
U.S. Congressman
201 Varick Street, Suite 669 NYC 10014
Email: jerrold.nadler@mail.house.gov
Fax: 212-367-7356
Phone: 212-367-7350

Honorable Gale A. Brewer
New York City Council Member
563 Columbus Avenue, NYC 10024
Email: gale.brewer@council.nyc.ny.us
Fax: 212-873-0279
Phone: 212-873-0282

Honorable Christine Quinn
City Council Speaker
224 West 30th Street, Suite 1206, NYC 10001
Email: quinn@council.nyc.ny.us
Fax: 212-564-7347
Phone: 212-564-7757

Honorable Scott Stringer
Manhattan Borough President
1 Centre Street, 19th Floor, NYC 10007
Email: bp@manhattanbp.org
Fax: 212-669-4900
Phone: 212-669-8300

Honorable Eric T. Schneiderman
New York State Senator
80 Bennett Avenue, Ground Floor NYC 10033
Email: schneide@senate.state.ny.us
Fax: 212-928-0396
Phone: 212-928-5578

Honorable Linda B. Rosenthal
New York State Assembly Member
230 West 72nd Street, Suite 2F, NYC 10023
Email: rosentl@assembly.state.ny.us
Fax: 212-873-6520
Phone: 212-873-6368

Honorable Jessica S. Lappin
336 East 73rd Street (Suite C), NYC 10021
Email: lappin@council.nyc.ny.us
Fax: 212-442-5503
Phone: 212-788-6865

LANDMARK WEST!
45 West 67th Street, NYC 10023
Email: landmarkwest@landmarkwest.org
Fax: 212-875-0209
Phone: 212-496-8110

*Praise for West-Park by Barry Bergdoll, Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA and Columbia art history professor. To read a copy of his letter and others by noted experts, please visit www.landmarkwest.org/westpark.

Save the Date for Preservation Slide Talk!

DECEMBER 3, 2007: SAVE THE DATE!

A slide talk by Anthony C. Wood
“Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect A City’s Landmarks” *

Monday, December 3, 6:00 pm
Christ & St. Stephen’s Church (Columbus & Amsterdam)
122 West 69th Street
Reception will follow in Central Park West Apartment

Reservations are required
$25 for slide talk, $75 for slide and reception
Contact LW! for more details
(212-496-8110;
landmarkwest@landmarkwest.org)
Email invitation will follow



* The book will be launched on November 5th at the Museum of the City of New York. Preserving New York is the story of the people and places, the buildings and battles, and the policies and politics that, after decades of tragic losses, led New York City to create a legal mechanism to protect the city’s cherished landmarks.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

West-Park Presbyterian Church 11/1 Meeting: Speak Up and Sign On!

Come Support Landmark Protection of West-Park Presbyterian Church!

SHOW UP…

On Thursday, November 1, at 7:00 PM, Community Board 7’s Parks and Preservation Committee will consider passing a resolution calling on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold an official landmark designation hearing for the imperiled West-Park Presbyterian Church
(that glorious, 1890s, red-sandstone building anchoring the northeast corner of 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue - see below for information on the building's architectural and historical significance; to view photos and other information, go to
www.landmarkwest.org/westpark).

The location of the meeting will be B'nai Jeshurun, 257 West 88th Street (between Broadway and West End Avenue). (See
www.cb7.org “Calendar of Events” for the most up-to-date scheduling information)

SPEAK UP!

You are encouraged to speak out on this urgent issue.
Beyond a doubt, West-Park Presbyterian Church deserves formal landmark protection. And landmark designation may well be the only way to save this beautiful and rare part of our city's history!

The agenda for the November 1 CB7 meeting will include a presentation by Mosette Broderick (Director of the Urban Design and Architectural History Program at NYU) and colleagues on the building’s design by renowned architects Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Kilburn.

SIGN ON!

Show the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Community Board 7 and public officials that you support a landmarks hearing for West-Park by going to
http://www.petitiononline.com/westpark/petition.html for an online petition. Send it to your friends and neighbors. Information about writing letters to elected officials is available through www.landmarkwest.org/westpark.

The Case for Designating West-Park As An Official NYC Landmark:


Art historian Barry Bergdoll (Columbia professor and Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA) called West-Park "one of the architecturally most distinguished and historically most important of Manhattan's surviving Nineteenth century churches...West Park Presbyterian Church is one of the very finest examples of this vital moment in American architectural history still standing in New York, and the fact that it stands in a place so important to the architctural order of the city makes it a crossroads both of a neighborhood and of a key chapter in American architectural development" (letter dated 2004).

In a 2003 letter to the Landmarks Commission, Andrew S. Dolkart (architectural historian, writer and the James Marston Fitch Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University) stated: "The West-Park Presbyterian Church is unquestionably one of the most beautiful religious structures on the Upper West Side. The bold massing of this Romanesque Revival style building, the soaring tower anchoring the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street, and the extraordinary deep red sandstone cladding combine to create a building of singular power."
Please call LANDMARK WEST! at (212) 496-8110 for additional information.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Help Preserve West-Park Presbyterian Church!

Come Support Landmark Protection of West-Park Presbyterian Church!

Mark your calendar for Thursday, November 1, at 7:00 PM when Community Board 7's Parks and Preservation Committee will consider passing a resolution calling on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold an official landmark designation hearing on the imperiled West-Park Presbyterian Church (that glorious, 1890s, red-sandstone building anchoring the northeast corner of 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue - see below for information on the building's architectural and historical significance).

The location of the meeting will be B'nai Jeshurun, 257 West 88th Street (between Broadway and West End Avenue).

All concerned members of the public - YOU! - are encouraged to speak out on this urgent issue. Beyond a doubt, West-Park Presbyterian Church deserves formal landmark protection. And landmark designation may well be the only way to save this beautiful and rare part of our city's history!

The agenda for the November 1 CB7 meeting will include a presentation by Mosette Broderick (Director of the Urban Design and Architectural History Program at NYU) and colleagues on the building’s design by renowned architects Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Kilburn. Click here for photo of West-Park.

The Case for Designating West-Park As An Official NYC Landmark:

Art historian Barry Bergdoll (Columbia professor and Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA) called West-Park "one of the architecturally most distinguished and historically most important of Manhattan's surviving Nineteenth century churches...West Park Presbyterian Church is one of the very finest examples of this vital moment in American architectural history still standing in New York, and the fact that it stands in a place so important to the architctural order of the city makes it a crossroads both of a neighborhood and of a key chapter in American architectural development" (letter dated 2004).

In a 2003 letter to the Landmarks Commission, Andrew S. Dolkart (architectural historian, writer and the James Marston Fitch Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University) stated: "The West-Park Presbyterian Church is unquestionably one of the most beautiful religious structures on the Upper West Side. The bold massing of this Romanesque Revival style building, the soaring tower anchoring the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street, and the extraordinary deep red sandstone cladding combine to create a building of singular power."

Please call LANDMARK WEST! at (212) 496-8110 for additional information.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Report from the Front: Congregation Shearith Israel

No Action, But Many Questions at Community Meeting on Congregation Shearith Israel's Development Plans

Community Board 7 (CB7) did not vote at last night's "informational" meeting, a misnomer since more questions than answers emerged about Congregation Shearith Israel's (CSI's) plans to build a 105'-tall building, including five floors of luxury condos stacked on top of a new community house, on the low-rise, brownstone-scale midblock of West 70th Street.

No one but CSI's attorney and architect spoke in favor of the development project. But West Siders showed up in force to express concerns about the impact this particular project would have on our neighborhood. In addition, participants included residents and homeowners keenly aware of the precedent CSI's building would set for other would-be developer-institutions including the New-York Historical Society, West-Park Presbyterian Church, Congregation Rodeph Sholom, the Jewish Home & Hospital and the Ramaz School on the East Side.

This was the first of at least two meetings of CB7's Land Use Committee (future dates tba) on CSI's as-yet incomplete application to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) for 7 zoning variances, needed since the proposed building would violate the area's low-rise, contextual R8-B zoning designed to protect the character of brownstone blocks. CSI has so far failed to complete its application in response to BSA's 48+ objections to the original submission (made back in April 2007). CB7 committee members clearly recognized the shortcomings of the current proposal and put CSI on the hot seat with their probing questions.

LANDMARK WEST! brought in a court reporter to document the proceedings. A full transcript will be available at http://www.landmarkwest.org/advocacy/70st.html and www.protectwest70.org soon. Stay tuned for information about upcoming meetings and opportunities for public input.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

TOMORROW NIGHT: Major Hearing on Congregation Shearith Israel

**IMPORTANT COMMUNITY MEETING**Wednesday, October 17, 7 PM (details below)

Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI) wants to erect a 105’-tall luxury condo building behind its Landmark synagogue on West 70th Street, in the heart of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District. The proposed building is more than twice the height of the brownstones that define this historic block. Such an out-of-place building requires at least 7 special variances from the City’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).

This site is one of New York’s most important Landmarks. But much more is at stake. Approval of CSI’s plan would fuel the juggernaut of non-profit institutions attempting to exploit their Landmarks as “development opportunities.” The ultimate impact on our city’s most beautiful neighborhoods will be devastating.

When: Wednesday, October 17, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Congregation Rodeph Sholom
7 West 83rd Street (between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue)
Why: The West Side has fought long and hard to preserve our community against inappropriate development that, block by block, will erode the architectural character that makes this area special.

Your presence (even if you don't plan to speak) is vital! Have questions? Call LANDMARK WEST! at 212.496.8110Go to www.landmarkwest.org/advocacy/70st.html and www.protectwest70.org.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

General Society Lecture Series: Charles Lockwood Lecture, Tuesday October 16

The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesman Announces 2007-2008 Lecture Series

Join The General Society for its landmark lecture series At Home In New York City

NEW YORK BROWNSTONES: ICONS OF A GREAT CITY
Tuesday, October 16th at 6:00 pm

Architectural Historian Charles Lockwood, author of the seminal Bricks and Brownstone: The New York Row House 1783-1929 kicks things off by exploring the architectural, social, and cultural history of the brownstone, Lockwood’s lecture promises to reveal this ubiquitous—and fundamental—component of New York City’s architectural identity.

CAPITALIST CASTLES
Tuesday January 22nd at 6:00 pm

Join Upper West Sider Mosette Broderick for her lecture, an exploration of the gilded glory of New York City’s residential castles. The Director of NYU’s Architecture and Urban Design Program, Broderick offers an intimate glimpse at this storied aspect of New York’s architectural heritage.

THE SUBURBAN OPTION: GARDEN APARTMENTS IN TWENTIETH CENTURY NEW YORK CITY
Tuesday February 19th at 6:00 pm.

Dr. Jeffrey Kroessler, Associate Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, will explore the urban architectural answers sought by New York City’s middle class. The lecture will present the array of housing styles that under-gird New York City’s architectural ensemble.

NEW YORK CITY HOUSING FUTURES
Tuesday March 11th at 6:00 pm.

Shampa Chanda, Assistant Commissioner for Planning at NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, will focus upon the challenges, opportunities, and issues as New York City houses the twenty-first century.

Admission: $15 for the general public, $10 for members, and $5 for students. For more information or to register visit www.generalsociety.org/events or call 212.921.1767


The General Society is a New York City Landmark located at 20 West 44th Street
Designed by Lamb and Rich and expanded by Ralph S. Townsend in 1903, the building is a striking example of monumental Beaux-Arts classicism.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Dolkart 10/9 Lecture on Garment District Vernacular Architecture

Building Capitol: The Vernacular Architecture of the Garment District
October 9th, 6:30 p.m. - Recital Hall

CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue @ 34th Street

FREE. Seating is limited.
Admittance will be on a first come, first served basis,
no reservations.
For more information:
visit www.gothamcenter.org or call 212.817.8474.

The Garment District is one of the most famous neighborhoods of New York City. This is an area well known to labor historians, but virtually unknown to historians of the city's built environment. Andrew Dolkart, the James Marston Fitch Associate Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University's School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and author of the award-winning Morningside Heights: A History of its Architecture and Development, will give an illustrated lecture on the vernacular architecture of the Garment District, examining the forces that resulted in the extraordinary rapidity of development of showrooms, factories, and lofts.

Co-sponsored with the Leon Levy Foundation as part of its "Garment Industry History Initiative."

All Hands On Deck for West-Park Presbyterian Landmarks Consideration

On Thursday evening, October 11, Community Board 7 Parks and Preservation Committee members will meet for a presentation on West-Park Presbyterian Church and may consider a resolution supporting a NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing for the beloved building.

Citing its beauty and architectural significance, LANDMARK WEST! first petitioned the Landmarks Commission in 1985 to designate West-Park Presbyterian, which has graced the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street for over a century. The agenda for the October 11 CB7 meeting will include a presentation by Mosette Broderick (Director of the Urban Design and Architectural History Program at NYU) and colleagues on the building’s design by renowned architects Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Kilburn. Showing up and speaking up at the October 11 meeting is a great opportunity to voice your support and get the ball rolling toward landmark designation. (Click here for additional details and photos of the building. Read on for an architectural description of the building.)

Plan to attend the Thursday, October 11 evening meeting (schedule updates: http://www.cb7.org/commagendas.html). A CB7 resolution calling for a public hearing to consider designation of the building will show the landmarks commission that Upper West Side neighbors support landmark status for the church building.

Next step after October 11: If a resolution comes out of the October 11 CB7 Parks and Preservation committee meeting, a vote will follow at the full CB7 board meeting on Wednesday, November 7 (location TBA).

Architectural Significance:

In his 2003 letter to the Landmarks Commission, Andrew S. Dolkart (architectural historian, writer and the James Marston Fitch Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University) stated:

"The West-Park Presbyterian Church is unquestionably one of the most beautiful religious structures on the Upper West Side. The bold massing of this Romanesque Revival style building, the soaring tower anchoring the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street, and the extraordinary deep red sandstone cladding combine to create a building of singular power."

The West-Park Presbyterian Church was designed to stand out in the Upper West Side community. Its dramatic bell tower is a beacon to worshipers, and its red sandstone fa├žade kept pace with the highest fashion of the day. Indeed, West-Park may be the only example of a Richardsonian Revival-style church to survive in Manhattan.

Doesn’t this beautiful structure at least deserve a landmarks hearing?

Please call LANDMARK WEST! at (212) 496-8110 for additional information.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Yellow Alert for Shearith Israel: Upcoming CB7 Land Use Meeting

After more than a year of watching and waiting, Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI) is back with its controversial plan to develop 5 stories of luxury condos on top of a new community house at 8 West 70th Street. Community Board 7's Land Use Committee will hold a public meeting to discuss (and possibly vote on) this application on Wednesday, October 17 (starting after 7 PM, more specific time tba). The location is Congregation Rodeph Sholom, 7 West 83rd Street (between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue).

Between the New-York Historical Society on the West Side, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and Ramaz School on the East Side, uptown and downtown (and, as the old song goes, all around the town), the issue of tax-exempt nonprofit institutions exploiting their sites as "development opportunities" is more timely than ever. That's why YOUR participation in CB7's October 17 meeting is absolutely essential! This is about more than one institution's attempt to develop its real estate on the back of the surrounding community. This is about breaking down the West Side's historically strong resistance to inappropriate development that, block by block, will erode the architectural character and integrity of our city's historic districts.

Discrepancies in the BSA Application: On June 15, 2007, the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) issued its notice of objections to the CSI application, identifying 48 discrepancies, misrepresentations and failures on the part of the applicant to provide information necessary to enable the Board to evaluate the proposed new building for a variance. On September 10, 2007 (nearly one month past the 60-day dismissal deadline required by the Board), CSI submitted its revised application. Based on evaluation of the latest application, it continues its failures to respond to the BSA objections and to provide clear information on crucial issues which are significant to any determination of hardship excusing the applicant from compliance with the zoning regulations governing sound development. As resubmitted, CSI’s application remains egregiously incomplete. For documentation of the application and planning analysis by Barnacle Planning Studio, click here and visit http://www.protectwest70.org/.

While CSI could construct an appropriate, 6-story community house facility "as of right" (i.e., following groundrules for sound development), it needs no fewer than 8 special variances from the BSA to build a 105'-tall structure, including condos, more than twice as high as the brownstones that define this historic mid-block of West 70th Street, protected as part of an R8-B contextual zoning district AND as part of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District, both created decades ago to preserve the low-rise, human-scale character of our neighborhood's mid-blocks. The site is also immediately adjacent to one of New York's most important Individual Landmarks, Congregation Shearith Israel, aka the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue (Brunner & Tryon, 1897), one of the handful of low-rise, Classical-style institutional buildings that play a key role in the Central Park West skyline.
Don't let Congregation Shearith Israel be yet another domino to fall! Join us at Community Board 7 on October 17!

Monday, October 1, 2007

LW! Walking Tour for Kids

LANDMARK WEST! teams up with openhousenewyork to
bring you two FREE family walking tours!


As advertised in today’s New York Times openhousenewyork supplement, on Sunday, October 7 LANDMARK WEST! will lead two Upper West Side walking tours geared for children ages 7-10. Tours will last one hour. The tours are part of LANDMARK WEST’s youth education program, “Keeping the Past for the Future.”**

Space is limited so advanced registration is required.
Email elysenewman@landmarkwest.org or call 212-496-1714 to register

Tour 1: Sunday, October 7 at 11:00am
“Horse Trails to Subway Rails”
Discover how the Upper West Side formed 100 years ago,
from horse stables and mansions to the construction of the subway and more.
Meet at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument,
Riverside Drive at 89th Street

Tour 2: Sunday, October 7 at 12:30pm
“Farmhouses to Townhouses”
Learn about the Upper West Side’s transformation from farmland to cityscape,
and how the subway’s construction played a part.
Meet at the south east corner of 81st Street
and Columbus Avenue


Check out the openhousenewyork website for additional events taking place during the weekend of October 6th and 7th: www.ohny.org or look in the Friday, September 28 New York Times for the openhousenewyork guide.

**Spread the word about “Keeping the Past for the Future” to your friends and neighbors who have children in Upper West Side schools! For additional information about KPF and to find out how your child’s school can participate in LW’s program, contact:

Elyse Newman
Director of Education
LANDMARK WEST!
elysenewman@landmarkwest.org
t: 212-496-8110

Friday, September 21, 2007

Continuing Education Seminar Series


LANDMARK WEST! invites you to attend a series of day-long seminars designed for real estate brokers, planners, residential and commercial building owners and neighbors.

A Preservation Primer
Monday, October 15, 2007

The Evolution of Architecture and Living Styles in Manhattan
Monday, November 12, 2007

Green Building and Historic Preservation
Monday, December 10, 2007

Each seminar is NYS- approved for 7.5 hours of real estate broker continuing education credits.

What: This preservation-focused educational series will enhance participants’ appreciation and understanding of our historic neighborhoods as we explore the development of Manhattan and the evolution of architectural styles in NYC. We will also examine the laws governing the landmarks process to help guide property owners seeking to alter or restore their apartments, townhouses or commercial facades. We will see that preservation does not seek to freeze our communities in time; rather it enhances the beauty and value of our ever-evolving neighborhoods. The series finale will examine practical green building and energy efficiency measures that can be taken when restoring and renovating older homes.

Featured Speakers: Francoise Bollack, AIA, principal, Francoise Bollack Architects, winner of The Green Building Competition for New York City; Mosette Broderick, MA, NYU design professor and architectural historian, Francis Morrone, MA, acclaimed author, lecturer, and teacher; and Karen Zukowski, MA, author of Creating the Artful Home: The Aesthetic Movement; Gregory Dietrich, Cultural Resource Consulting Group; Jean Phifer Parker, FAIA, principal, Thomas Parker Architects; Andy Padian, Steven Winter Associates; Craig Graber, Viridian Energy & Environmental, LLC, among others.

Register: Call (212) 496-1714 to register. You may pay by check or credit card- $80 per seminar (includes lunch compliments of Yvette Viverito, Advanced Capital Group (631) 656-1500 x 246). Please send payment to: LANDMARK WEST!
45 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023.

For more information, refer to our website http://www.landmarkwest.org/.

Location: American Bible Society, 1865 Broadway at 61st Street, New York, NY

Participants will receive a New York State certification for 7.5 hours of study approved by the Secretary of State in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 868 of the Laws of 1977.

Payment and Cancellation Policy: Checks will be accepted up to 5 working days before each seminar. Credit card charges will incur a small processing fee. While we cannot offer refunds for no-shows, we can furnish donation letters for tax purposes.

Monday, September 17, 2007

New-York Historical Society: Time for Dialogue

 Source: “New Historical Society Project Would Stir Up Skyline and Residents,” The New York Times, 11.1.06

Here is what the New-York Historical Society still wants to put in our front yard. A developer and architect have been chosen.

This much is certain. Whether it is this year, next year or 5 years from now, the Society intends to move forward with its “Phase 2” tower plan. Here is the question: When will the Society face the community, reveal its plans, and begin the dialogue it evaded in the first round? Will it, like the developers of Lord Foster’s tower at 980 Madison Avenue, spring its tower on the public as a done deal?

LANDMARK WEST! is prepared to approach this next phase unburdened by “Phase 1” history, to turn in good faith to a rational discussion of the Society’s needs, plans and alternatives for its future. Will the Society participate? When?

Join your fellow citizens in urging the Society to hold a candid, forthright public forum on its plans to develop its site. Please click here to sign our online petition.

To learn more, visit the LANDMARK WEST! website: http://www.landmarkwest.org/advocacy/nyhs.html

Friday, September 7, 2007

Back to School With LANDMARK WEST!

LANDMARK WEST! Goes Back to School

It’s official! Summer is over and thousands of Upper West Side students are returning to the classrooms this week.

And so is LANDMARK WEST!

If you have a child in an Upper West Side school, an interest in youth enrichment, or just plain curiosity about what’s happening in the neighborhood, read on…

Keeping the Past for the Future (KPF), LW’s school-based education program, is designed to foster within our city’s young people, primarily in grades 1 to 5, a strong sense of engagement, ownership, and responsibility toward their community through learning about the built environment and its history. KPF brings an LW! educator into classrooms for three to five sessions. During these sessions students, teachers, and an LW! educator go on walking tours, look at historic photographs of the neighborhood to compare “then and now”, study architectural styles and details of neighborhood buildings, and create a final preservation project.

The centerpiece of the program is our student workbook, “My Preservation Journal” which teaches students about the architecture and history of their neighborhood, while emphasizing the important role of historic preservation in sustaining the quality of life of our community for present and future generations.

We offer this program to public schools AT NO COST, thanks to the generous support of New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, Council Member Gale Brewer, and private donations.

During the 2006-2007 school year we reached over 1000 students, and this year we anticipate reaching 1,500. We have just hired our first full-time Director of Education, Elyse Newman, to expand the program and make it more central to LW’s advocacy work. We received a generous award of $15,000 from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs to support KPF – what a vote of confidence! This is a period of tremendous growth for KPF and we look forward to keeping you posted on all the program’s successes and the incredible work created by our students — a.k.a Upper West Siders of the future!

**In addition to our classroom sessions this year, LANDMARK WEST! will be giving two family-oriented walking tours on Sunday, October 7, as part of the annual openhousenewyork weekend. Call LW! for more details (212-496-8110) and check out
http://www.openhousenewyork.org/ for general information about the weekend.

Spread the word to your friends and neighbors who have children in Upper West Side schools!

For additional information about KPF and to find out how your child’s school can participate in LW’s program, contact:

Elyse Newman
Director of Education
LANDMARK WEST!
elysenewman@landmarkwest.org
t: 212-496-8110

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tuition-Free Program in Historic Preservation at Mechanics' Institute

PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Release

_______________________________________________
New Tuition-Free Program in
Historic Preservation


New York, NY – Summer 2007. Mechanics’ Institute is now accepting applications for its new program in Historic Preservation.

The two-year certificate program in Historic Preservation is comprised of eight courses, which cover a wide range of topics, from Building Typology to Case Studies in Preservation. Tuition-free classes are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 5:00pm to 7:00pm, and 7:00pm to 9:00pm (to accommodate students’ daytime work schedules.) Each class session meets twice per week, two hours per evening, for thirteen (13) weeks. The next semester begins September 10.

The program is open to women and men currently working in historic preservation or related fields. Instruction focuses on architectural history, preservation processes and policies, methods and techniques of historic preservation, and case studies of New York City buildings and landmarks (see below.)

Curriculum Breakdown

Introduction to Historic Preservation
Visual Literacy
Building Typology – Architecture
Building Typology – Construction
Restoration Techniques
Building Pathology
Construction Materials & Methods
Case Studies in Historic Preservation

Mechanics’ Institute is located at 20 West 44th Street, in the heart of midtown Manhattan. Registration is taking place now and space is limited to 20 new applicants. For more information visit the school website at
www.mechanicsinstitute.org. To register, call the Admissions office at 212.840.7648.


20 West 44th Street New York, N.Y. 10036
Telephone: (212) 840-7648 Facsimile: (212) 764-5058

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What's Going On At Congregation Shearith Israel?

Congregation Shearith Israel Update

Wednesday, August 15, 2007, came and went. The significance? That was the deadline imposed by the Board of Standards and Appeals in their June 15, 2007, letter to Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI). "The Board desires to process applications on a timely basis and requests that applicants notify the Board if they are unable to make a complete submission within sixty (60) days. Failure to respond in a timely manner could lead to the dismissal of the application for lack of prosecution."

As of today, almost a full week after the deadline passed, CSI has yet to submit materials addressing any of the 47 objections raised by the Board in June. (Remember, CSI is asking for 8 variances exempting their proposed 124-foot-tall building from the area's contextual, brownstone-scale "R8-B" zoning. Much of the proposal's noncompliance results from CSI's desire to stack luxury apartments on top of a new community house.)

It is our understanding that the Board will not act immediately to dismiss CSI's application. The process may well drag on for many weeks, perhaps months. Yet, CSI's failure to meet the August 15 deadline, not to mention the fact that it took them over a year to file with the Board after getting the Landmarks Preservation Commission's design approval back in March 2006, suggests that CSI knows just how far they are from making a case that their project merits exemption from the zoning laws designed to protect the low-rise character of West 70th Street and hundreds of other blocks on the Upper West Side and thousands throughout the city.

And so, we continue to wait...and watch.

We are not alone. On a parallel track in Brooklyn, Cobble Hill neighbors are "fighting for their skies" against a developer seeking City Planning Commission approval for a new building that would break the brownstone area's 50-foot height limit for the first time ever. (As with CSI, the Landmarks Commission approved the developer's too-tall proposal.) Preservation advocate and current NYC Art Commissioner Otis Pratt Pearsall wrote in a recent letter to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, "If, our 40 year unbroken history notwithstanding, one developer on some rationale or another is now permitted an exception, can anyone believe that henceforth every developer will not also seek his own exception?...Please, make no mistake. The dam will be broken." This just in... BP Markowitz said "No" to the proposed Brooklyn building's height!

To learn more about the Brooklyn proposal, click
here. For background on Congregation Shearith Israel, click here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Last Chance for the Music Series at the Naumburg Bandshell!

Last free outdoor concert of the summer!

Join the Naumburg Orchestral in Central Park for:
The Naumburg Orchestra
Jean-Marie Zeitouni - conductorJennifer Rivera - mezzo soprano
On Wednesday, August 15, 2007 at 7:30pm

Jean-Marie Zeitouni won a 2007 JUNO award (Canadian Grammy) with Les Violons du Royfor
Astor Piazzolla: Works for StringsA Simple Symphony - Benjamin Britten (1913-76)Il Tramonto (with Jennifer Rivera) - Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936)5 Greek Dances - Nikos Skalkottas (1904-1949) ~ intermission ~Serenade for Strings - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-93)

The Naumburg Bandshell is located on the Concert Ground in Central Park,
south of the 72nd Street cross-drive. Admission is free. No rain
dates. For information log on to
www.naumburgconcerts.org.

See you at the Bandshell

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Calling All Ansonia Buffs: Zabar Thesis Now Available Online

LANDMARK WEST! is proud to announce that LW! Board Member Lori Zabar’s much-requested master’s thesis on W. E. D. Stokes, the original developer of the Ansonia, is now available for purchase through ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. And for a limited time only, you can get this excellent resource for your library and at the same time support ongoing preservation efforts on the Upper West Side. Lori will donate to LANDMARK WEST! any proceeds she receives from ProQuest during the first year of sales. So, please, order your copy today!

To order an unbound copy of the thesis, go to www.landmarkwest.org, click on Maps & Building Data and then click on the Ansonia (Individual Landmark #15) where you will find the link to the publisher. Once you are on the ProQuest site, click on “Order a Copy” and then, click on “Dissertation Express.” The order number is 1436503. If for some reason the link to ProQuest is not accessible on your computer or you would like to know the options available in bound publication formats, then call 1-800-521-3042 to order by telephone or email info@proquest.com. Please be aware, as the thesis is printed by ProQuest on demand from a microfilmed master, some of the illustrations are fuzzy.

The following is a summary of the book:

William Earl Dodge Stokes: Developer of Residential Real Estate on Manhattan’s Upper West Side including the Ansonia Apartment-Hotel

William Earl Dodge Stokes (1852-1926), through his flamboyant career as a real estate developer, influenced the architectural form and urban design of Manhattan’s upper west side. This thesis traces Stokes’s activities, beginning in the 1880s, including the construction of dozens of single-family rowhouses, several tenements, and his magnum opus, the Ansonia Apartment-Hotel, completed in 1904, all built in the neighborhood of 72nd to 87th Streets between Broadway and Riverside Drive. During the last quarter of the 19th century, Stokes, in concert with other developers, transformed the west side from virtual countryside to sophisticated cityscape. The keystone of Stokes’s career was the sumptuous Beaux-arts Style Ansonia, publicized as the “most perfect” and largest apartment-hotel in the world. Although Stokes listed himself as “Architect-in-Chief,” the French architect Paul E. M. Duboy (1857-1907) drafted the plans. Stokes’s development of the legendary Ansonia, boasting the most up-to-date services and amenities, is described in detail.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Shearith Israel Postponed -- Again

Preservation Push-Back Against Condo Plan: Public Meeting on Congregation Shearith Israel Proposal Held Off Until September

Back in June -- nearly 3 months after submitting its application to develop a luxury condo building/community house at 8 West 70th Street to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) -- Congregation Shearith Israel seemed suddenly eager to get on Community Board 7's (CB7's) summertime calendar. A public meeting scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, June 20, was postponed at the last minute when LANDMARK WEST! directed CB7's attention to a June 15 letter from BSA itemizing 48 (48!) objections to Shearith Israel's application, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the application was incomplete.

Shearith Israel has made no discernable progress towards revising their application (BSA's letter requested a complete submission within 60 days, which translates to August 15...the clock is ticking). So, when the item appeared again on Wednesday, July 18 agenda of CB7's Land Use Committee, community members were quick to respond, reiterate our concerns about Shearith Israel's failure to submit a complete application and, again, succeed in getting a postponement -- this time until September at the earliest, dashing any hopes Shearith Israel may have held out for a quiet July or August vote. Click here to read a letter from Mark Lebow, the attorney representing community interests, to CB7 including a copy of BSA's 48 as-yet-unaddressed objections plus a memo by architectural consultant Simon Bertrang raising additional issues on the legitimacy of the application.

What goes down must come up...we'll alert you when (not if) Shearith Israel's plans finally come to the surface! Please stay tuned.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Help Defend the Cathedral of St. John the Divine

HELP DEFEND THE CATHEDRAL OF ST. JOHN THE DIVINE FROM TOWER DEVELOPMENT

As the grounds of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine are cleared to make way for massive new development, the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee (our colleagues to the north of 110th Street) continues to lead the fight for sensitive preservation of this world-class monument.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission opted out of the process by declining to include the Cathedral close in its designation of the site as a landmark in 2003 (prompting the New York City Council to reject the designation in its entirety, leaving the whole site unprotected). But that isn't the end of the story. Just a few months ago, the New York State Office of Parks stepped up and declared that the "proposed Residential Tower would have an Adverse Impact upon the nationally significant Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Close." The new tower would be "incompatible in scale" and "inconsistent with the character of the historic buildings and the high quality of design, materials, and workmanship that they represent."

What you can do today:

Join the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee and other preservationists citywide in the Campaign to Save The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine and its historic Close. Bookmark the website www.geocities.com/SaveTheCathedral and go to www.petitiononline.com/SaveCath to sign the online petition calling on the National Trust for Historic Preservation (America's nationwide preservation advocacy force) to intervene.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Seneca Village Walking Tour

Please join LANDMARK WEST! and friends for

Reconstructing Seneca Village

“Manhattan’s First Significant African American Community

A Walking Tour with Cynthia Copeland, Nan Rothschild and Diana Wall

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 (rain or shine)

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

~

Meet at 6pm sharp at the Mariner's Gate, southside of 85th Street and Central Park West. There will be a reception following the tour hosted by Halstead Properties, 408 Columbus Avenue, corner of 79th Street.

To make sure we start on time, tickets must be purchased in advance. Please send a check for $25 to LANDMARK WEST!, 45 West 67th Street, New York, NY 10023 no later than Friday, July 20. For information, you may also email us at landmarkwest@landmarkwest.org. Space is limited.

~

Unbeknownst to many who frequent Central Park, an African American community called Seneca Village once existed in the Park between 82nd and 89th streets. The fascinating story of how African Americans came to acquire property in the area as early as 1825 will be told by accomplished urban archaeologists. Our guides will take us back in time to help us imagine how Seneca Village functioned, how it looked and how it evolved from undeveloped property to a vital multi-ethnic community of 264 people by 1855. We will be able to picture, in our minds’ eye, the homes, churches, cemeteries and the school that served the community before the Village was razed in 1856 to make way for the construction of Central Park.

~

Cynthia Copeland, curator at the New York Historical Society, Nan Rothschild, Director of Museum Studies at Columbia and Diana Wall, Professor of Anthropology at City College, have worked together to determine the feasibility of conducting an archaeological dig of an area in Central Park that was once Seneca Village.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Shearith Israel's Application Incomplete: Public Meeting Postponed

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Community Board 7 has postponed its public meeting on Congregation Shearith Israel's application to develop 5 stories of luxury condos on top of a new community house at 8 West 70th Street. The meeting had been scheduled for the evening of Wednesday, June 20. According to an email circulated by CB7 late this afternoon, it will be rescheduled "when their application is complete."

When it's complete? Hasn't Shearith Israel taken months, if not years, to craft this proposal, which would require 8 variances from the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA)? Surely by now, at the very least, their application is "complete." Not so fast, suggests a letter that BSA issued to Shearith Israel on Friday, June 15, itemizing 48 (48!) objections to the materials submitted back in April 2007. (LANDMARK WEST! obtained a copy of this objection letter on Friday afternoon and brought it immediately to CB7's attention, resulting in today's postponement.) Clearly, BSA is tuned into the magnitude this planned condo development--and the fact that New Yorkers all over the city have their eye on the issue of nonprofit institutions playing real estate games.

Stay tuned for details about future public meetings on this issue. In the meantime, for background information and to learn more about why this matters so much to our neighborhood - YOUR neighborhood - please visit www.protectwest70.org and www.landmarkwest.org.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Presenting P.S. 166's Exquisite Neighborhood Model

LANDMARK WEST! is excited to announce the exhibition of a stunning and colorful neighborhood model created by 2nd graders at P.S. 166* (132 West 89th Street) in collaboration with LW!’s youth education program, Keeping the Past for the Future. The model will be on display in the front window of Council Member Gale Brewer’s district office, located at 563 Columbus Avenue (at 87th Street).

As part of the Keeping the Past for the Future curriculum, 2nd graders studied their immediate neighborhood and environment with a LW! educator, learning about the various building types, architectural elements, and businesses that form part of the exciting Upper West Side community. Students’ models on display include police stations, banks, grocery stores, brownstones, schools, and libraries. The students completed the project under the guidance of P.S. 166 classroom teachers Julie Stone and Carmen Cardona, and LW! Director of Education Elyse Newman.

Be sure to stop by Council Member Gale Brewer’s district office to see this beautiful and detailed student model firsthand! LANDMARK WEST! would like to thank Council Member Brewer for hosting the exhibition and for her continued support for Keeping the Past for the Future.

~

Keeping the Past for the Future (now in its 10th year!) is designed to foster within our city’s young people, primarily in grades 1 to 5, a strong sense of engagement, ownership, and responsibility toward their community through learning about the built environment and its history. Through its interdisciplinary and hands-on activities, Keeping the Past for the Future supports literacy, mathematical ability, analytic thinking, problem solving and creative thinking. Meanwhile, the program emphasizes the important role of historic preservation in sustaining the quality of life of our community for present and future generations. During the 2006-2007 school year, KPF reached over 1,000 students in 40 classrooms and 8 schools on the Upper West Side—and at no cost to public schools. If you would like Keeping the Past for the Future to be a part of your child’s education, contact your school principal or parent coordinator
and tell them!


To learn more about Keeping the Past for the Future, visit www.landmarkwest.org/education, or email elysenewman@landmarkwest.org.

*P.S. 166 was designated an individual New York City Landmark in 2000. It was designed by Charles B.J. Snyder and completed in 1898.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Shearith Israel Back in Play

More Tower Talk: Congregation Shearith Israel's Luxury Condo Plan is Back
After a more than a year of watching and waiting, Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI) is back with its controversial plan to develop 5 stories of luxury condos on top of a new community house at 8 West 70th Street. Community Board 7's Land Use Committee will hold a public meeting to discuss (and possibly vote on) this application on Wednesday, June 20 (starting after 7 PM, more specific time tba). The location is
7 West 83rd Street
(between Central Park West and
Columbus Avenue
) in the board room of Congregation Rodeph Sholom.
Between the New-York Historical Society on the West Side, Mt. Sinai on the East Side, uptown and downtown (and, as the old song goes, all around the town), the issue of tax-exempt nonprofit institutions exploiting their sites as "development opportunities" is more timely than ever. That's why YOUR participation in CB7's June 20 meeting is absolutely essential! This is about more than one institution's attempt to develop its real estate on the back of the surrounding community. This is about breaking down the West Side's historically strong resistance to inappropriate development that, block by block, will erode the architectural character and integrity of our city's historic districts.
While CSI could construct an appropriate, 6-story community house facility "as of right" (i.e., following groundrules for sound development), it needs no fewer than 8 special variances from the Board of Standards and Appeals to build a 105'-tall structure, including condos, more than twice as high as the brownstones that define this historic mid-block of West 70th Street, protected as part of an R8-B contextual zoning district AND as part of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District, both created decades ago to preserve the low-rise, human-scale character of our neighborhood's mid-blocks. The site is also immediately adjacent to one of New York's most important Individual Landmarks, Congregation Shearith Israel, aka the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue (Brunner & Tryon, 1897), one of the handful of low-rise, Classical-style institutional buildings that play a key role in the Central Park West skyline.
Don't let Congregation Shearith Israel be yet another domino to fall! Join us at Community Board 7 on June 20!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Landmarks Budget Emergency

AT RISK: The Landmarks Preservation Commission and Historic Buildings and Neighborhoods Throughout NYC!

Unless YOU act right now, the already minuscule budget of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) -- the only city agency with the authority to protect New York's historic buildings and neighborhoods -- YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD -- could be cut significantly in the coming weeks.

The City Council, now entering final budget negotiations, must hear from you. Immediately. Email/call/fax your local council member and members of the budget negotiating team TODAY. See contact information below.

Frustrated with the LPC? Their slowness to respond? The ever-quickening pace of development, eating away at the character of our communities? It will only get worse, unless the LPC has the resources it needs to carry out its vital mission. Landmark West! is part of a broad coalition advocating for a $1 million increase in the LPC budget on top of its current budget of just over $4 million -- a modest amount of money that could make a world of difference in the LPC's ability to protect the buildings and neighborhoods that matter to the people of our city. ACT NOW! Contact the Council, and forward this message to friends and colleagues.

Who is your council person? Go to http://www.cmap.nypirg.org/netmaps/MyGovernment/NYC/MyGovernmentNYC.asp?cmd=start.

Who are the council members on the budget negotiating team?

Quinn quinn@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (212) 564-7347; T: (212) 564-7757

Brewer gale.brewer@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (212) 873-0279; T: (212) 873-0282

Garodnick garodnick@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (212) 818-0706; T: (212) 818-0580

Baez baez@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 584-5725; T: (718) 584-6955

Comrie comrie@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 776-3798; T: (718) 776-3700

Dilan emdilan@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 642-8639; T: (718) 642-8664

McMahon mcmahon@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 556-7389; T: (718) 556-7370

Rivera rivera@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 842-6280; T: (718) 842-8100

Dickens dickens@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (212) 442-2732; T: (212) 678-4505

Fidler fidler@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 241-9316; T: (718) 241-9330

DiBlasio deblasio@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 854-1146; T: (718) 854-9791

Gallagher (gallagher@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 326-3549; T: (718) 366-3900)

Oddo oddo@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 980-1051; T: (718) 980-1017

Jackson jackson@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (212) 928-4177; T: (212) 928-1322

Arroyo arroyo@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 402-0539; T: (718) 402-6130

Reyna reyna@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 963-4527; T: (718) 963-3141

Weprin weprin@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 776-2302; T: (718) 465-8202

Katz katz@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 544-4452; T: (718) 544-8800

At-large members

Mark-Viverito viverito@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (212) 722-6378; T: (212) 828-9800

Martinez martinez@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (917) 521-1293; T: (917) 521-2616/2640

Seabrook seabrook@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 652-0703; T: (718) 994-9900

Sears sears@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 803-9832; T: (718) 803-6373

Stewart stewart@council.nyc.ny.us; F: (718) 951-8191; T: (718) 951-8177