Monday, March 19, 2007

UPDATE: Public Hearing re: New-York Historical Society

On March 20, 2007 (next Tuesday), the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a public hearing on the New-York Historical Society's plans to alter its "Triple Crown" Landmark on Central Park West between 76th and 77th Streets. UPDATE: THE HEARING IS SCHEDULED FOR 3 P.M. AT THE LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION. LPC IS LOCATED NORTHEAST OF CITY HALL IN THE MUNICIPAL BUILDING,
What we do know for certain is that YOUR VOICE at this public hearing is very, very important. Contact Landmarks Chair Robert B. Tierney ( or fax to 212-669-7955) today! Please feel free to use the sample letter pasted below, or put it in your own words. And please make the effort to send cc's to each of the elected officials listed below (plus a cc to
Community Board 7 sent a strong message with its almost unanimous resolution (passed by the full board on March 6) disapproving the Society's application for facade changes and criticizing the Society's attempt to use the facade changes (Phase 1) to "bootstrap" the tower plan (Phase 2). But the Landmarks Preservation Commission has the final say. (As important as the CB 7 vote is, it is purely advisory.) Only the Landmarks Commission has the authority to approve or deny this application outright, send the Historical Society back to the drawing board for modifications OR hold off any decision until the Society submits a complete application, with full public disclosure, addressing both the Landmark itself and any new development that would impact the historic neighborhood and our beloved Central Park West skyline.
Please send your letter today! And please make every effort to attend the March 20 hearing.
Hon. Robert B. Tierney, Chair
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission

New York, New York 10007
RE: New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West
Dear Chair Tierney:
I am writing to register my strong opposition to the plans of the New-York Historical Society’s to alter permanently its Landmark and the unique skyline of Central Park West between West 76th and 77th Streets, at the crossroads of some of our city’s most beautiful and historic treasures.
The Society wants to change the façade of its Landmark building and then to erect a luxury tower that would loom over the building, the American Museum of Natural History, Central Park and Central Park West at one of its strategic intersections. Sadly, the Society’s representatives have not been forthcoming with the community. To the contrary, they are attempting to keep the public in the dark about the tower until it is too late to challenge the specific plans. This is most unfortunate for a non-profit public institution whose constituency is all of us in the City, not only the people in the immediate vicinity who will be negatively impacted by the despoiling of the environment.
At recent meetings before Community Board 7—each attended by hundreds—it became apparent that the Society’s strategy is to “divide and conquer”. The $15 million façade alterations are a major project with significant impacts on the Landmark. Community Board 7 disapproved this part of the scheme on the merits by an almost unanimous vote on March 6, 2007. Moreover, the Board’s negative resolution echoed the larger concern that the façade project is a Trojan Horse that would immediately set the stage for the luxury high-rise. The Society’s claims that these projects are “separate” is disingenuous; one leads directly to the other—that was obvious at the meetings.
As a New Yorker, I am appalled as well as saddened by this offense against the public. The only “Triple Crown” Landmark in our city (protected as an Individual Landmark and as part of the Central Park West –
But this is not our only concern. To consider New York’s landmarks and historic districts as “development opportunities” is a travesty against our obligation to preserve the best of the City for generations to come. Approval of a tower to loom over the Historical Society would send a clear green-light signal to private and institutional developers eager to exploit other historic properties throughout the city.
I am adding my voice to the resounding “NO” that the New-York Historical Society and the policy-makers of our city cannot ignore.
West 76th Street
Historic District and the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District), the New-York Historical Society is the anchor of a unique architectural, historical and cultural ensemble. Immediately surrounding this site are the American Museum of Natural History (an Individual Landmark) as well as Central Park (a Scenic Landmark). Any changes must be considered carefully and with full transparency.
1 Centre Street
, 9th Floor
[your name]
Send cc's to:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg - Go to and type your message
Honorable Christine Quinn
City Council Speaker
Honorable Scott Stringer
Manhattan Borough President
Honorable Thomas K. Duane
NYS Senator

Honorable Linda B. Rosenthal
NYS Assembly Member
Honorable Richard Gottfried
NYS Assembly Member
Honorable Gale A. Brewer
NYC Council Member

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