Friday, May 28, 2010

Preservationists, ahoy!

FlickrOn Wednesday, May 26th, LANDMARK WEST! and a group of our nearest and dearest set off for an adventure aboard the historic, National Register-listed John J. Harvey fireboat!  The sun set, the full moon rose, a sister fireboat spouted a patriotic water show ... all on cue!

Seeing New York from the water reminds us of how important it is to step back occasionally, admire, critique and reflect. 
Significant birthdays do that, too. 

So, in the spirit of LANDMARK WEST's 25th anniversary this year, let us pause for a moment and congratulate one another on a job well done ... so far.

Tremendous thanks also to ...

Huntley Gill
, John J. Harvey captain, West Sider and dear friend of LW!.  Our harbor adventure was a birthday gift from Huntley to the LW! family!  What a generous treat!  To learn more about the John J. Harvey and their team's great work, visit
Fairway Market
, for donating the delicious organic strawberries.
Rachel Simon Holzman
, baker extraordinaire, for the sweet treats.

Relive this magical evening with our Flickr photo album.

Happy Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The End of (Another) Era

Today we learned that another Upper West Side institution is closing its doors - O'Neal's, nee The Ginger Man, a fixture on West 64th Street for nearly half a century and generous host to LW's Candidates Breakfast Forums through the years.  

Saying goodbye to O'Neal's comes all too quickly on the heels of losing the Cafe des Artistes on West 67th Street (in 2009) and, just recently, Gino's on the Upper East Side.  (See Anthony C. Wood's recent blogpost about Gino's closing at  As places to gather, eat and commune, these restaurants - and their familiar, artful interiors - leave an indelible impression on us all.  Below, a note from Mike O'Neal...


Dear Patrons and Friends,

With this letter I want to let my dear friends and patrons know that sometime at the END OF JUNE we will be bring the curtain down on a long and exciting run.

The O'Neal family has had a presence on West 64th Street for 46 years,  first at THE GINGER MAN and then as O'NEALS'.  It is with much sadness we say goodbye.

Many of you know all the many manifestations we have had over the years,  originally the Ginger  Man, we got good reviews and  we expanded.  Soon we broke through the wall into the Liberty Warehouse and opened the Liberty Ice Cream Parlor, We later turned this room into "the Grill Room", do you remember the beautiful fireplace? Little by little our original home, a renovated garage, became the site of a new building we moved all operations into the warehouse.

In 2001 The Liberty Warehouse was sold and the old owners went belly up. The strict foreclosure that followed terminated our lease with many years to go.

A buyer turned up and made the building a condo.  At this point we considered calling it quits but we held out and negotiated a new lease.  We waited 21 months to reopen.  Meanwhile the building had been gutted.  We rebuild saving many of our treasures and lovingly making a home for them in the new space.

We came back seven years ago, bigger and better than ever.  I think the new place is beautiful and we also build a modern new kitchen which make the food even better.

But along with all the building came "new debt".  At first we did well but when Lincoln Center cut back on their programs and the "world wide recession" up we started to loose ground.  It has come to that point where we have to admit "We bit off more than we can chew".  So rather than further increasing our debt we have made the painful and heart wrenching decision to close.

At this point I want thank all my loyal employees and management staff, who have done a yeoman's job trying to hold the place together, especially I would like to thank my partner Jim Enzel who took all the midnight calls and hand to  endure the creditors flack.  Also my wife Chris and my family they have all suffered through all this  turmoil, without their support I couldn't have made it. And now to all my beloved  patrons and customers I will miss you on a daily basis.  I always loved it when a customer would say "I am so glad to see you busy,  I can never get a table".  Down deep in my heart, I was thinking , "Where were you last Tuesday when there was no one here".

Monday, May 24, 2010

Amsterdam Avenue Street Festival 2010

As reported by Cristiana P.

On Sunday afternoon, LW! staffers took to the streets--Amsterdam Avenue between 86th and 87th Streets, to be specific--for the annual Amsterdam Avenue Street Festival!

From our post directly across from West-Park Presbyterian Church, the West Side's newest Individual Landmark, we spoke with neighbors and festival goers about our advocacy initiatives, upcoming programming, our youth education program, and much more.  In turn, folks shared with LW! their thoughts on "what makes the West Side ... the West Side!" in brief video testimonials and our neighborhood survey.

A tremendous afternoon!  Thank you to everyone who visited LW's table!

LW's Kate Wood, neighborhood survey in hand, at our table during the street festival.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Coalition to Save West-Park honored

Congratulations to the individuals and organizations honored last night by the Historic Districts Council at its 20th Annual Preservation Party and Grassroots Preservation Awards.

This year, the awards were especially close to our West Side heart.  Among the grassroots efforts honored was The Coalition to Save West-Park Presbyterian Church!  Two decades of perseverance paid off on May 12, 2010, when the City Council voted to affirm the Individual Landmark designation of West-Park. 

Now the real work of preserving this extraordinary building can begin...  Click here to learn more.

Again, our sincerest thanks to all those whose dedication to West-Park made this communal victory a reality!

Members of The Coalition to Save West-Park Presbyterian Church join HDC to accept their Grassroots Preservation Award.  From left to right: Fran├žoise Bollack, Simeon Bankoff, Susan Sullivan, Kate Wood, Rudy van Daele, Susan Nial, Klari Neuwelt.  More photos available on Flickr.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Seeing Is Believing! Preservation rally and West-Park council vote photos are in!

Experience the camaraderie and shared appreciation for our city's rich history as manifest at the preservation rally 2010, which took place on May 12, 2010.

Then, go inside City Hall for images from the decisive votes to confirm the Landmarks Preservation Commission's designation of West-Park Presbyterian Church as an Individual Landmark.

For more info, click here

Preservation Rally Draws Spirited Crowd

Yesterday, May 12th, just before the decisive vote by the City Council to affirm the landmark designation of West-Park Presbyterian Church ...

Rain or shine, New York City wants landmarks!

Dozens of landmark and neighborhood preservation advocates from all of the city's five boroughs gathered on the steps of City Hall to rally for preservation.


Historic buildings and neighborhoods are among New York's most valuable cultural and economic assets.  Landmarks must be a priority!  Past Preservation Lobby Days have resulted in greater Landmarks Preservation Commission funding and demonstrated the breadth of the preservation community. 

LANDMARK WEST! thanks all of the organizations and individuals who participated in this year's rally.  Your presence helped send the message loud and clear ...

Preservation is for the people and benefits all New Yorkers!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

West-Park Landmark Designation Upheld!

A Landmark At Last!
As of 3:08 this afternoon, West-Park Presbyterian Church is the Upper West Side's newest official Landmark!  In a series of votes today at City Council, the Subcommittee on Landmarks, the Land Use Committee and the full 51-member Council upheld the unanimous decision of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to preserve one of New York's most remarkable religious structures.

Click here for up-to-the-minute New York Times coverage.

Facebook   Facebook

Please join us in sending congratulations and deepest thanks to Council Member Gale Brewer for her tireless leadership.  After a 20-year community effort, ensuring a positive outcome in today's vote was no easy task.  But the *real* work of preserving and revitalizing this landmark is still ahead of us.

Today's victory begins a new chapter in the life of West-Park.  The community is mobilized, energized and ready to get to work!  We look forward to having you by our side and will keep you closely posted on next steps.  The ultimate goal is not only to preserve West-Park for future generations, but to restore it to vibrant use.  With your help, we can do it! 

In the meantime, cheers to all!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Two birds, one stone ... May 12th is THE DAY!

Preservation Double-Header: Wednesday, May 12th
West-Park votes and Preservation Lobby Day 2010

After 20 years of waiting, the City Council will take the decisive vote on the landmark designation of West-Park Presbyterian Church.  All three required votes--by the Subcommittee, Committee and Full Council--must take place next Wednesday, May 12th. Committee and Full Council--must take place next Wednesday, May 12th. 

The clock has run out and there can be no more delay!

Just before these important votes take place, join us
on the steps of City Hall as LANDMARK WEST! and scores of preservation advocates from throughout the five boroughs gather with our elected officials for Preservation Lobby Day 2010.  Help us to rally for sustained funding for the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) and to show how important preserving our historic buildings is to New Yorkers! 


City Council votes on landmark designation of West-Park and Preservation Lobby Day 2010

Next Wednesday, May 12th

9:45AM arrival at City Hall
                   10AM rally on the front steps of City Hall
10:15AM vote by Subcommittee on Landmarks
                   10:30AM vote by Land Use Committee
                   1:30PM vote by full City Council

WHERE:  Council Chambers, City Hall

                   (Directions: #1 train to Chambers Street; #2/3 trains to Park Place; #4/5/6 trains to Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall; R/W trains to City Hall Station) Bring identification to get through City Hall Park security.

        Without full restoration of funding from the City, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will suffer further cutbacks to its already brutally insufficient resources ... and our City's history--resources like West-Park Presbyterian Church--will be lost.

Our city's historic buildings and neighborhoods are what draw people to come to New York and to stay here.  The City must make preservation a priority!  Past Lobby Days have resulted in greater Landmarks Preservation Commission funding and demonstrated the breadth of the preservation community.  We need you to join us to demonstrate that preservation is for the people and benefits all New Yorkers!

Click here
for a quick refresher on the April 20th Landmarks Subcommittee Public Hearing and more background on West-Park.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Riverside Park comfort station fated to novice design

As reported by Cristiana P.

Apparently, park "wins" don't come in pairs.

Less than a week after LW! celebrated the community's triumph in successfully pushing back a proposal by the Dept. of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to install bubbles over existing tennis courts in Central Park, our Certificate of Appropriateness (C of A) design review committee testified at the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) on proposed changes to a historic Robert Moses-era building in Riverside Park.  Though our C of A Committee felt strongly that the application did not rise to the standard of design befitting a historic building in a landmarked park and urged the LPC to deny the application, the LPC did ultimately approve it unanimously. 

At Public Hearing of the LPC yesterday, the DPR presented their design for modifications to
the 102nd Street comfort station, located in Riverside Park, a Scenic Landmark.  This joint project with architecture students from Parsons School of Design proposes (1) metal-and-glass infill and (2) the construction of a barrier free access ramp.  Public testimony was presented by the Historic Districts Council and LANDMARK WEST!, both in opposition to the application as presented.  In their testimonies, both groups outlined numerous elements of the design that raised red flags, and provided various suggestions on how the proposal might be improved through further experimentation and exploration.  Manhattan Community Board 7 approved of the design.

In response to public testimony, the DPR stated that the 1930s terra-cotta jalousies (window tiles) were off the proverbial table, as reproducing or reintroducing them in any way, the DPR felt, would unnecessarily historicize the building.  

Which brings us to the six Commissioners in attendance and their comments.  One Commissioner-architect declared the 1937, Clinton Lloyd-designed comfort station to be "Moses at his best," and as such, the LPC must "get this right" in regards to the proposed design.  In their collective opinion, the DPR/Parsons design did just that.  The Commissioners expressed minor concerns for the proposed metal infill framing system (aluminum), the physical arrangement of the access ramp, and the terra-cotta jalousies.  Yet, unfortunately, all six Commissioners present approved of the design, with the footnote that the metal infill framing would be minimally tweaked at staff-level in response to concern for their role in the overall infill design.

Top: Proposed metal-and-glass infill design.  Bottom: Proposed design when covered by open-weave metal rolldown security gate.  As presented at LPC Public Review on April 30, 2010.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Is the end near for this illegal rooftop addition?

Today's Wall Street Journal reports interesting developments on West 68th Street ...

Since 2009, LW! has tirelessly advocated for the wholesale removal of an illegal rooftop addition at 12-14 West 68th StreetWe were thrilled to report just this past March that the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) had--for the second time!--denied the property owner's request to legalize the addition after-the-fact (more here as well!).  A tremendous win for the community!

Now, in his May 4, 2010, article in the WSJ, reporter Craig Karmin cites an LPC source as indicating the the owner of 12-14 West 68th Street is making moves "to remove the entire [illegal] floor."  Such an outcome would be the realization of exactly what LW! and a league of others have been advocating for from day one.  As LW's own Arlene Simon states in the WSJ article, LW! "organized in all five boroughs to protest this ... if it can happen here it can happen anywhere."  

In protecting the integrity of 12-14 West 68th Street, we are standing up for nothing short of the integrity of the Landmarks Law itself!  Read testimony provided by LANDMARK WEST! to the LPC on this issue, read the article, share it with others, and stay tuned for more on this issue!