Friday, December 17, 2010

An APPetite for Architecture :: Launch of iPhone walking tour app for Manhattan's Upper West Side


It's here!  LW! proudly introduces the first ever iPhone walking tour app of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, using technology to offer a uniquely local perspective on NYC history, architecture and futureClick here to download the app for free, and begin your neighborhood discovery!
 









 
  • Designed by local experts for people of all ages and interests—neighbors, visitors to the city, families, armchair travelers...everyone!
  • 35 landmark locations including the legendary Dakota Apartments, Beacon Theatre, Ansonia Hotel and American Museum of Natural History.  
  • Intriguing facts and striking photographs telling the story of the Upper West Side’s development since the 19th century.
  • Automatic updates on current preservation issues facing our neighborhood's landmarks.
 LW's app lets YOU take immediate action to help protect landmark sites!  Here are some examples of how you can learn about the issues and get involved:

Image courtesy of Office for Metropolitan History.
Tour Stop #15:  Former Dakota Stables
This significant but unprotected building was torn down after a robust public campaign, led by LW!, to save it.  LW! is now deeply involved in ongoing efforts to fix flaws in the city's landmarks preservation process that directly resulted in the Stables' demise.  

Join the cause and find like-minded friends on the "Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation" Facebook page.  Read other LW! blog posts on the NYC landmarks crisis.


Image from the New York Times, 11/1/2006
Tour Stop #19:  New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society's landmark building is one of 10 sites on Central Park West where new condo towers may rise, according to a professional study commissioned by LW!, forever changing this iconic skyline as we know it today.   

While strong community opposition has so far pushed back the Historical Society's plans for a 280-foot-tall highrise looming over its landmark, the City recently approved a slew of special permits allowing Congregation Shearith Israel, another low-rise Classical landmark, to build 5 floors of luxury condos on top of its West 70th Street community house.  Learn more about LW's skyline study and join the list of "Save Our Skyline" supporters (launched in 2006, re-launching now!).  Read other LW! blog posts on defending the skyline.


Tour Stop #28:  Central Park
LW! led efforts, supported by more than dozen ally organizations and over 1,400 individuals, to defend Central Park against a misguided City proposal to install four 35-foot-tall vinyl bubbles over existing outdoor tennis courts near 95th Street.  

The City hasn't completely abandoned its proposal, which would privatize public space and pose an environmental threat to a Scenic Landmark and historic urban oasis.  Join the list of concerned citizens who want to Keep Central Park Open to AllRead other LW! blog posts on Central Park. 
 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

PHOTOS :: 25th Anniversary celebration a magical success!




It was an indescribable sensation to stand among our friends Tuesday evening, in the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse in the Rose Building at Lincoln Center.  In a room suspended among snowflakes, we gathered to celebrate a quarter century of an organization truly central to the preservation of our amazing Upper West Side neighborhood: LANDMARK WEST!   

Master of Ceremonies Tom Brokaw graciously presided over our evening's program-- a command performance, he mused: "Arlene commands; I perform!"  The revelries kicked-off with a special performance by Isaiah Sheffer, Founding Artistic Director of Symphony Space, and members of the Thalia Follies cabaret troupe entitled "The Preservation Follies".

But the night wasn't just about us!  LW! is going strong because of families like the Blechmans, the Caros, and the Wolfes.  Remarkable people whose passion fuels our own, who put their exceptional talents to work for the greater good, who help to organize the community around issues and values that matter most -- beauty, history, culture, and sustainability.  These families remind us why it is so important for LW! to persist for another 25 years ... and more!

For our friends who were able to join us for this magical night of revelry, may the photos below (and here, in our Flickr album!) serve as a reminder of our whimsical evening.  For those unable to attend, we hope to see you at another event in 2011.  Thank you, all, and here's to the next 25 years!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Roberta Brandes Gratz Removed from the Landmarks Preservation Commission


The New York Times City Room blog reported last night that Roberta Brandes Gratz was removed from the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission as of October 26, 2010.  Gratz - journalist, preservationist, and most recently author of The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs - was
appointed to the Commission by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2003. 

The Mayor giveth, and the Mayor taketh away.

Gratz was often "a thorn in the side of the commission, freely speaking her mind, even if her views clashed with other commissioners, City Hall or the chairman, Robert B. Tierney," reports the TimesBloomberg deliberately failed to reappoint Gratz when her term expired, even as other commissioners had their terms renewed, leaving her to vulnerable to removal at any moment.


Read more...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

LW! in the Press :: West Side Spirit covers 25th anniversary

Check out this online article in the West Side Spirit, sharing a bit of info about LANDMARK WEST!'s quarter century of preservation advocacy on the Upper West Side.  

**Spoiler alert!** Some of our favorite lines, below ...

"We don't want the Upper West Side to become a Disneyland, where everything is just a facade.  We want there to be something tangible ...  It's probably not sexy, what we do, but it's essential."
~~ Arlene Simon, president, founder and citizen activist extraordinaire.



On the protection that landmarking provides and the responsibility it instill in property owners: "Yes, people may have to go through more bureaucracy ... but their neighbors do too."
~~ Kate Wood, executive director and glass-half-full expert.

For more on LANDMARK WEST's 25th anniversary celebration, to be held on Tuesday, December 14, 2010, at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, click here!

Friday, November 19, 2010

UPDATE from the FIELD :: "Nautical" Boathouse bar sunk by Design Commission

UPDATE from the FIELD
As reported by Cristiana P.

Central Park's iconic Loeb Boathouse was recently in the market for an outdoor bar redesign.  Suburban mall kiosks and beach-front rest stations need not apply!

The Design Commission on Monday morning reviewed a proposal for a newly designed bar adjacent the Boathouse, and LW! was there.  Following a presentation of the project by representatives of both the Parks Department and the project architect, we presented our testimonyCosmetic quick-fixes are not the answer, we argued, when the fundamental design is inappropriate.  The Commissioners picked up on this same point and offered critique on the tear drop-shaped design.  For a rundown (and more LW! notes) visit A Walk in the Park blog.

As we commented to A Walk in the Park: "LANDMARK WEST! is incredibly pleased that the Design Commission took a strong stand on this application, especially after it passed through a number of other stages of public review with far less criticism. This was a prime example of money and the desire to generate revenue--not design integrity--being the driving force behind park projects. What we get, of course, is an outrageous, flamboyant design that belongs anywhere but in a Scenic Landmark like Central Park. The Design Commission picked up on this precisely, and we think it’s terrific."

Our design review committee first reviewed this proposal in September, when it appeared before the Landmarks Preservation Commission (click here for a copy of our statement).  And we'll continue to monitor agency agendas for its resurfacing.  As always, stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NEW! Reserve online for LW! events and programs

Reserving your ticket for LANDMARK WEST! events just got a whole lot easier!  It's simple:

(1) Hear about an intriguing upcoming LW! event by email.*  Like Mosette Broderick's "Architecture (and Scandal!)" next Monday, or our 25th Anniversary gala celebration at Lincoln Center on December 14th.

(2) Click on the links provided, like this one here for Mosette Broderick, or this one here for our anniversary fete.

(3) Select your tickets, enter your billing information, and voila!  You're on the list!

Of course, you can still call LW! staff at (212) 496-8110 with any questions.  We can't wait to see you at one of our upcoming public programs!

*Don't already receive our emails?  Easily subscribe by emailing us at landmarkwest@landmarkest.org.

Celebrate Defenders of NYC Heritage at Annual Bard Birthday Breakfast

Come celebrate Roberta Brandes Gratz, Jane Jacobs, and fellow defenders of New York City at the annual Bard Birthday Breakfast Benefit on December 1 - details below! 

(Required reading is last week's New York Times City Room blog post about Roberta's feisty tenure on New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission...and her abrupt dismissal by Mayor Bloomberg.)

Roberta Brandes Gratz will also be speaking tonight, Wednesday, November 10, at 7:00 PM at The New School, Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor.  Admission is free!  Sociologist Richard Sennett and moderator David Brancaccio will join in the discussion, entitled "The Battle for Gotham:  The Competing Legacies of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses."  The event is co-sponsored by The Nation Institute, Haymarket Books, Democrats.com, City Limits and The New School.

Friday, October 29, 2010

LW! girls go ghoul ... and Andrew, too!



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Upcoming Events for your Calendar!

Music at Christ & St. Stephen's Church begins its 2010-2011 Season
Hear music at this Landmark church (designated in 1990 as part of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District.
Click here for more information.


Creating a West Side Landmark: Thursday 10/28/2010 at 6:00PM 
Learn the history of the NYC American Youth Hostel (a NYC Individual Landmark built in 1883 as the Association Residence for Respectable Aged Indigent Females) located at 891 Amsterdam Avenue between 103rd and 104th Streets. Admission is Free. For more information, call 212-666-9774.


Roberta Gratz and The Battle for Gotham: Wednesday 11/10/2010 at 7:00PM
Join famed urbanists and authors Roberta Brandes Gratz ad Richard Sennett as they discuss the competing legacies of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs in contemporary New York City.  This talk is sponsored by The Nation and The New School.  Admission is free; no tickets or reservations required.

Click here for more information.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The building formerly known as Tavern on the Green ...


Make note: when referencing the building once home to the iconic Central Park-sited dining establishment Tavern on the Green restaurant, you must now add the descriptor "the building formerly known as" beforehand.  Or "the old", "used to be", "once was".  Anything in the past tense will suffice.  

Today marks the re-opening of the (former) Tavern on the Green building.  Transformed from that of an iconic dining destination, the Central Park building, located just inside the park at West 67th Street, is now a Visitor Center and impromptu dining destination.

Where once the Crystal Room twinkled now park visitors gather to nibble on hip food-truck fare (on opening day, ice cream from Van Leeuwen, turkish tacos by Pera, the much-hyped Rickshaw Dumpling truck, and Ladle of Love).  For more on how we got here, head to A Walk in the Park blog.

Photos from our lunchtime walkabout:

Entrance nearest Central Park West at 67th Street.
Outside of new gift shop area in Visitor's Center.
Interior of Visitor's Center gift shop.
Food trucks provide nibbles for park goers and passers-by.
New benches and plantings.
View of dining patio.
Former Tavern on the Green, as seen from the Sheep Meadow.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

UPDATE from the FIELD :: Boathouse bar review complete; design improved!


UPDATE from the FIELD
As reported by Mary N.

Following up on our October 1 blog post ...

This past Tuesday morning, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) met to review for the second time an application regarding the replacement of the existing bar and modification of the terrace at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park.  This Public Meeting session (meaning no public testimony was permitted) comes after the September 28th Public Hearing review of this multi-part project.  For a refresher on LW's testimony from September, click here.

We are pleased to report that the proposal underwent changes since its first presentation to the LPC, and for the better!  The project architect, taking the Commission's suggestions to heart, introduced a darker color scheme and more wood to their design (previously, metal and glass reigned supreme).  Although the design itself was kept basically intact, darker, more natural-looking materials and colors were presented at this Public Meeting. 

One of the most troubling aspects of the project at the LPC's September 28th Public Hearing was the proposed raising of the existing decking.  As one of the Commissioners noted at that time, Frederick Law Olmsted was a "master of illusion", manipulating the landscape and structures in the park to create experiences that were not true to life.  Ie: making the Lake seem larger than it is by way of manipulating vistas, etc.  Raising the terrace would have brought the location out of balance with the overall illusion intended for a visitor to the Lake and Boathouse.  The project architect responded to this point by withdrawing that aspect of the proposal.  The decking will remain at its present height!

Overall, the Commission commended the new design, pointing out that the new color scheme made the bar read more as a pergola, not as a copy of the Boathouse or an extension of the Boathouse itself.  The Commission found the new proposal to be an improvement upon the original proposal and approval was granted.

LW! and its design review committee are thrilled to have been part of the community dialogue on this project.  We believe the proposal for the bar at the Loeb Boathouse has positively improved through the review process and will be eager to re-visit the bar upon the project's completion. 

For more on LW!'s position on this project, read our statement from the Sept. 28th Public Hearing.  For information on how you can participate in our design review committee, email us our committee coordinator, CristianaPena@landmarkwest.org.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

UPDATE :: LW! staff gets first peak at iPhone app


First came the funding campaign ...  

On August 17, 2010, LANDMARK WEST! announced the launch of its Kickstarter online funding campaign to raise monies for the first ever iPhone walking tour app of the Upper West Side.  For 35 fun, maraca-filled days, we shared our project far and wide, along the way inspiring over 50 people to back our project.  $3,285 later, the campaign has been a tremendous success!

Now, let's build this app!

Today, LANDMARK WEST! staff is excited to report that our iPhone app developer will be unveiling to us the first round of designs and schematics for this one-of-a-kind West Side iPhone tool.  From there, we'll work through the kinks, think through more content and functionality questions, and continue on!

Things are moving along!  Stay tuned as the app project develops!  You can get updates both here and on our Kickstarter project page (just click on the "Updates" tab!).  For more on this and other LANDMARK WEST! projects, check out our Twitter feed and our Facebook page.

Friday, October 1, 2010

UPDATE from the FIELD :: Downtown chic at Central Park's Loeb Boathouse? No, thank you.


UPDATE from the FIELD
As reported by Cristiana P.

Boat launch and outdoor bar at the Loeb Boathouse. 
Far left, white columns of the Boathouse; to the immediate
right, existing outdoor bar to be replaced.
Picture it: You're enjoying a beverage on the outdoor patio of the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park.  The calm reflection of the Lake; the soundless paddling of boats; the crisp rustling of leaves ... and a less-than-timid duck hops aboard the decking to join you for a brewskie.  The industry of the city couldn't be further from your mind.  That's Central Park living up to its character: rus in urbe.  That is, a bit of country rusticity in the heart of the urban city.

On Tuesday, a proposal was heard by the Landmarks Preservation Commission 
(LPC) at Public Hearing that would compromise the aesthetic of the Central 
Park landscape, and the selection of buildings located inside (ie: the Loeb Boathouse pavilion, where the proposal is sited).

LW!'s Certificate of Appropriateness (C of A) design review committee weighed in on this project.  The short of it: replace the existing bar with a new structure in glass and metal, relocate the bar closer to the Boathouse proper, swath it in a coat of bright-white paint ... and top it all off with an illuminated display podium for the liquor bottles.  Rustic, no?  And there's more: the proposal calls for raising the level of the patio area, drawing visitors further away from their interaction with nature. 

Our C of A Committtee strongly urged the LPC to deny the applicationClick here to read our testimony, and let us know what you think!  Our colleagues at the Historic Districts Council also presented testimony on this project (their statement available via their website)
.  The public review was also reported on by NY Eater.com.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

SAVE THE DATE :: 25 Years of The Good Fight

Join us on Tuesday, December 14, 2010, as we honor three families who have gone beyond the call of duty on behalf of the Upper West Side ... and beyond:

Moisha & R.O. Blechman

Ina & Robert A. Caro, and


Sheila & Tom Wolfe.


Tom Brokaw will emcee the event; Isaiah Sheffer, Artistic Director of Symphony Space, will pen and perform a special tribute to LANDMARK WEST!,
à la The Thalia Follies, showcasing the highs, lows and in-betweens from our 25 year history.

For more information, click here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

BREAKING NEWS :: Kickstarter campaign to fund iPhone app meets goal

Thank you to each and every one of our 45 backers!  YOUR SUPPORT is making our Kickstarter dreams come true!  Read all about it here ...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's official--we're "cutting edge"!

LW! received a wonderful 25th-anniversary gift from fellow blogger Anthony C. Wood, who wrote:

"Valuing our history doesn’t mean one is backward looking or a closet Luddite. LANDMARK WEST! has been a preservation leader in employing new technology to advance the preservation cause. It is on the cutting edge with its iPhone walking tour app. Its website also has an Advocacy Archive documenting LANDMARK WEST!’s history of advocacy campaigns. One can be forward thinking and forward looking and still appreciate the intellectual capital that is one’s own past."

Tony practices what he preaches.  Visit landmarks45.org to learn more about NYC preservation in this 45th-anniversary year of our city's Landmarks Law.

Past forward!

Friday, August 27, 2010

UPDATE :: WEEK THREE, and we're past 50% funded!


We've passed the point of no return (though, did we ever really consider turning back?): $1,760 pledged (that's 59% of our $3,000 goal) to our Kickstarter campaign to fund the Upper West Side's first ever iPhone walking tour app.  With twenty five days to go before the campaign ends, the possibilities are endless!  

At LANDMARK WEST!, we're thrilled that so many people (we're up to 31 backers!) see this as an opportunity to make a big difference with a modest contribution.  When we said it only takes $1 to make a difference, we meant it!  It all adds up.  And while the big-dollar pledges are tremendous (and generous) votes of confidence in our iPhone app idea, the $5 and $25 pledges are the bread and butter of this campaign.  Please keep the pledges--in any and all amounts--coming, and share the news of our Kickstarter project with your friends.  Your support will encourage others to watch our video, get inspired and follow your lead with a pledge of their own.

Thank you-thank you again to the backers who've pledged their support so far (below).  It's not yet 11AM; let's see who joins your ranks before the day is out!

CityGirlWrites
Cory Williams
Tom Webee
Walter B. Melvin Architects
Linda R. Safran
Roschel Holland Stearns
Lori & Timon Malloy
Lydia Mann
Sarah Orlinsky Maitland
Ronnie Eldridge
Marcella
LandmarkLion1984
Kate Wood
Wendy Frank
Ethel Wood
Fritz Umbach


Sarah Bradford Landau
Sumit Chachraa
Sarah
Michael Mandecki
Romanid
Hunter Armstrong
Charles Simon
Kerensa Wood
Madelon Hambro
David Patterson
Eileen Marzola
Pauline Eveillard
Gordon Ryan
Francesca Segreti
Brandi Hayes


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

UPDATE :: DAY EIGHT of Kickstarter and we've surpassed $1,500

What else can we say but THANK YOU to all of our backers!  The Kickstarter project will succeed because of you:

Sarah
Walter B. Melvin Architects, LLC
Michael Mandecki
Linda R. Safran
Romanid
Roschel Holland Stearns
Hunter Armstrong
Lori & Timon Malloy
Charles Simon
Lydia Mann
Kerensa Wood
Sarah Orlinsky Maitland
Madelon Hambro
Ronnie Eldridge
David Patterson
Marcella
Eileen Marzola
LandmarkLion1984
Pauline Eveillard
Kate Wood
Gordon Ryan
Wendy Frank
Francesca Segreti
Ethel Wood
Brandi Hayes
Fritz Umbach

Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow!

Making headlines :: Recent e-press on our Kickstarter campaign


While we're spreading the word far and wide about our Kickstarter online fundraising campaign, these online news agents and blogs are doing the same!  Click on the images below to access their write-ups about our project:













UPDATE :: WEEK TWO of Kickstarter clears the $1K hurdle

The Office Maracas are going wild!!! 

At DAY EIGHT of the Kickstarter campaign to fund the West Side's first ever iPhone walking tour app, we've raised $1,120 in pledges.  That's 37% of our $3,000 goal.  And it's not even 10AM!  We couldn't have made it to this important milestone without the support of our newest backers:
Romanid
Linda R. Safran
Michael Mandecki

And of course, thank you again (and again, and again ...) to all of our supporters (see earlier blog posts, below, for names*).

The campaign continues--28 days remain!  Help us meet our goal!  RETWEET our Twitter alerts; SHARE our Facebook posts; FORWARD our email blasts!  Together, we can make this happen.

*Normally, we like to list each and every individual's name.  But being that we're likely to post again today, we'll save it for later.  Nothing personal!

Friday, August 20, 2010

UPDATE :: Kickstarter iPhone app campaign WEEK ONE recap

Day Four (and Week One!) comes to a close with our project 28% of the way towards its goal of $3,000!  With two write-ups in local press (DNA Info and the West Side Spirit), that number will only continue to grow!

Three new backers have added their names to the list of those who have found inspiration in our Kickstarter iPhone walking tour app project.  And, more importantly, to the list of people to whom we give our sincerest thanks!  They are:


Lori & Timon Malloy
Hunter Armstrong
Roschel Holland Stearns

As backers, they'll get regular updates on the project both here and on our extra-special "Update" tab on our Kickstarter project pagePLUS they're privy to our "Backers Only" update posts.  But it's still early in the campaign, so here's a little something for everyone to enjoy and share ...



Click here to meet the Office Maracas (yes, you read that correctly).
Thank you again to all of our backers:


Fritz Umbach
Brandi Hayes
Ethel Wood
Francesa Segreti
Wendy Frank
Gordon Ryan
Kate Wood
Pauline Eveillard
LandmarkLion1984
Eileen Marzola
Marcella
David Patterson
Ronnie Eldridge
Madelon Hambro
Sarah Orlinsky Maitland
Kerensa Wood
Lydia Mann
Charles Simon

Thursday, August 19, 2010

UPDATE :: DAY THREE of Kickstarter iPhone app campaign


We've asked (and blogged, and Tweeted, and emailed, and Facebook posted [and then repeat!]), and you've answered!

We're three days into our 35-day long Kickstarter online funding campaign, and our iPhone app is $735 (25% funded!) closer to becoming a reality!  Thank you to the backers who today pledged their support!


Kerensa Wood
Lydia Mann
Charles Simon

And we can't say "thank you" enough to the folks who signed on during the first two days of the project:

Fritz Umbach
Brandi Hayes
Ethel Wood
Francesca Segreti
Wendy Frank
Gordon Ryan
Kate Wood
Pauline Eveillard
LandmarkLion1984
Eileen Marzola
Marcella
David Patterson
Ronnie  Eldridge
Madelon Hambro
Sarah Orlinksy Maitland*

Let's keep the inspiration going 'round!  Share the project; check back here for updates; keep the pledges coming!

*Mis-spelled in previous blog post.  Apologies!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

UPDATE :: DAY TWO of Kickstarter campaign, 21% of goal met!


Marcella
David Patterson
Ronnie Eldridge
Madelon Hambro
Sarah Olinsky Maitland

You all get gold stars next to your names in LW's proverbial book!  Thank you to the individuals named above who today pledged their support to our Kickstarter iPhone walking tour app development project!  We're closing the work day out at $615 -- that's 21% of our final goal!  The support from today's backers adds on to those who backed our iPhone app project from the word "go":

Fritz Umbach
Brandi Hayes
Ethel Wood
Francesca Segreti
Wendy Frank
Gordon Ryan

Kate Wood
Pauline Eveillard
LandmarkLion1984
Eileen Marzola

Stay tuned for more updates here, on Twitter and on Facebook!  And if you haven't already, WATCH THE VIDEO, get inspired and share the inspiration with others!  And, while you're at it, please pledge!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

UPDATE :: DAY ONE of Kickstarter campaign, a recap


Mark it on your calendar!  Today, LANDMARK WEST! kick started the fundraising of a history-making project: the development of the FIRST EVER iPhone walking tour app of NYC's Upper West Side.  And, conveniently, we teamed with the revolutionary website Kickstarter to do it!

Early this morning, we sounded the call far and wide.  We want people from Bay Ridge to the Bay City; from the Upper East Side to the Upper Penninsula; from Manhattan to, well, Manhattan (KS!) (look 'em up, people!) to be inspired by our project.  And to pledge their support!

We can't go any further without thanking--profusely--the backers who've helped us launch the project with a bang!  So, thanks to:


Fritz Umbach
Brandi Hayes
Ethel Wood
Francesca Segreti
Wendy Frank
Gordon Ryan
Kate Wood
Pauline Eveillard
LandmarkLion1984
Eileen Marzola

You're our heroes!  And with 34 days to go, the list of others who support our iPhone app development project will only continue to grow!

We'll post updates here to the blog at regular intervals, but for the most up-to-date info on our Kickstarter campaign, check us out on Twitter and on Facebook!

BREAKING NEWS :: Online campaing to fund iPhone app launches!

If a picture is worth a thousand words, here's to hoping our Kickstarter project video is worth $3,000!

WATCH
the video!  GET INSPIREDPLEDGE your support!


Friday, August 6, 2010

It Happened On East 6th Street ...


... IT CAN HAPPEN ANYWHERE!

In her August 4, 2010, NY Times article, “Mr. Landlord, Tear Down That Penthouse”, Cara Buckley reports on the BSA-mandated demolition of additional stories constructed at 514-516 East 6th Street.  As Ms. Buckley explains, the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) ruled that the Department of Buildings (DOB) exceeded its authority in issuing permits enabling the construction of penthouses that infringed upon laws governing safety in multiple dwellings.  The details are in the article (we hope you’ll give it a read!).  (Click here for West Side online news source DNA Info’s take)

This shines a new light on the ongoing saga of 12-14 West 68th Street.  As the DOB exceeded its authority in allowing construction on East 6th Street, it circumvented the authority of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in issuing permits on West 68th Street.  On 68th Street, however, the misinformation by the building owner to the DOB as to the landmark status of Nos. 12-14 adds a significant twist in the matter.  As Craig Karmin wrote in the Wall Street Journal on May 4, 2010, quoting a DOB spokesperson, “[l]icensed professionals are required to notify the department about a building's landmark status when submitting construction plans. It appears that did not happen in this case.”  The illegal rooftop addition plaguing 12-14 West 68th Street has twice been denied after-the-fact legalization by the LPC.  And now, the owner of 12-14 West 68th Street is suing the LPC and the DOB!  Click here to read the owner’s official filing with the Sate Supreme Court.

The illegal rooftop addition at 12-14 West 68th Street must come down.  It happened in the East Village; it can happen on the Upper West Side!  As always, stay tuned!

Photo: NY Times.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sunday Sweets!


Who doesn't love a good brownie?  Especially when it represents an opportunity to support a neighborhood landmark.*

This Sunday, August 8, 2:00 PM, West-Park Presbyterian Church congregation will hold a bake sale in front of its building on West 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.  Stop by and eat up a storm!

Click here for more information!

*West-Park Presbyterian Church (original 1884 chapel designed Leopold Eidlitz; 1890 sanctuary addition designed by Henry F. Kilburn) was officially confirmed as a NYC Individual Landmark in May 2010. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Preservation in action :: LW! testifies at design review public hearing

UPDATE FROM THE FIELD
As reported by Mei Tuggle, LW! intern and NYU student

Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) reviewed 150 West 77th Street’s application to construct a rear yard addition and to alter its basement entrance.  LANDMARK WEST!’s Certificate of Appropriateness (C of A) Committee not only found the proposal to construct a double-door entrance historically inappropriate, but also found the entire application to alter one of architect Gilbert Schellenger’s Renaissance Revival rowhouses excessively confusing and incomplete. And so did the LPC!

After hearing testimony from LANDMARK WEST!, the Historic Districts Council and neighbors, the LPC directed questions to the applicant.  Significant information was lacking in the presentation, and the LPC needed some answers: regarding the rear yard extension, did the applicant propose reconstructing the existing bay window, or mere replication?  What material was proposed? To what extent would original historic fabric be reused, if at all?

In addition, LW! testimony pointed out that "sacrificing an entire façade of historic building fabric for the sake of three feet of interior space" is wasteful and inappropriate.  Further, our C of A committee called for a renewed review by Community Board 7, noting that "the context of the proposed rear yard addition as presented to the community and as voted on by both the Community Board 7 (CB7) Parks & Preservation Committee and its Full Board was inaccurate. The appropriateness of the proposal was being evaluated in relation to a building façade that does not, in fact, exist."  This seemed to resonate strongly with the Commissioners, as they concurred that such a case rendered CB7’s decision inaccurate.

In the end, the LPC took no action (just as LW! recommended!).The applicant was instructed to supply the LPC with renderings of the proposed rear yard addition.

PHOTOS: Top: Rear facade of 150 West 77th Street as presented to CB7; Bottom: Rear facade as presented to the LPC.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Community Board verdict on Riverside South

In a session that continued on into the wee hours last night, Community Board 7 adopted a resolution calling on developer Extell to modify its proposal to build "Riverside Center," the last piece of the Riverside South megadevelopment. 

What does CB7 urge be incorporated?  A public school, traffic controls and a quality streetscape that enhances options for preserve the former IRT Powerhouse on West 59th Street, to name just a few key elements.

For more information on the IRT Powerhouse, visit the LW! Wish List!

For more details on the discussion, check out these news sources:
West Side Spirit: "Community Board Rejects Riverside Center Plan"
DNAInfo.com:
"Community Board Issues List of Demands for Riverside Center"
The New York Observer:
"Community Board Approves Its Disapproval of Riverside Center"
Curbed.com:
"Riverside Center Gets Official Community Board Thumbs Down"


Photo: NYObserver.com.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

LW! gets social: Friend us, follow us, bookmark us!

If you're reading this blog post, you're three-fourths of the way there!

Blogging is just one of the ways that you can keep up with LANDMARK WEST! and our Upper West Side advocacy initiatives.

We're on Facebook.  FRIEND US!

We're on Twitter.  FOLLOW US!

We're on Flickr.  BOOKMARK US!

Don't forget out the LANDMARK WEST! website.


And for those times when you need a little human contact, give us a call (212) 496-8110.

Monday, July 19, 2010

NYC Park Throwdown: Central Park or Prospect Park, who earns top accolades?


Let the debate begin!

In the Sunday, July 11, New York Times' Metro Section, two writers take on the challenge (or is it the pleasure?) of going to bat for the park land they covet. 

For a Manhattanite, Central Park as a fulfillment of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted's idea that "great numbers of people from different backgrounds and economic classes commingle outdoors amid the 'harmonizing and refining influence' ... of trees, grass and water."  Writing from her perch in Brooklyn, Prospect Park stands as Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's "true masterpiece."  When it comes to brass tacks, how do the two compare*?

Central Park:
       - Harmonious hobnobbing of New Yorkers and visitors alike
       - Home to the Mall, a singular formal element in this Olmsted and Vaux design
       - World class collection of American Elm trees

Prospect Park:
       - A haven for "locals" versus tourists, unlike Central Park
       - Olmsted and Vaux naturalistic design uncorrupted by formal elements
       - Native soil, literally (New Jersey soil trucked in to Central Park)

The debate continues!  Read the article and log your opinion in the comments.

*According to authors of the New York Times article Park vs. Park.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Agency ruling: No sliver building for 86th Street


The Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) ruled yesterday that in fact no, there will not be a sliver building rising at 330 West 86th Street anytime soon.  As reported in the West Side Independent, the BSA stops a 17-story building from being erected on a 20 foot-wide lot, tightly squeezed between two existing--and equally tall--apartment buildings.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is actively considering the boundaries for a proposed Historic District centering on West End Avenue.  Until this critical BSA ruling, the rowhouse residence at 330 West 86th Street (between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue) has been a hot-button site, threatened by demolition that would have opened the door for an inappropriate "sliver building" to rise in its wake.  The possibility of such destruction is symptomatic of the shocking lack of protection for this landmark-worthy neighborhood.

This is one for the "win" column, but the ultimate goal historic district designation for West End Avenue remains.  To find out more about how you can become involved, call LANDMARK WEST! at (212) 496-8110 or email landmarkwest@landmarkwest.org.  Or visit the West End Preservation Society online.

PHOTO: Left, the existing rowhouse at 330 West 86th Street. Right, the proposed "sliver building."  Photo by West Side Independent.