Friday, December 16, 2011

Spotlight on Education: LW! partners with architecture & engineering firm to bring lessons to life

As LW!'s Dir. of Education, Debi Germann, has the enviable job of exploring the West Side with local youngsters, encouraging them to look up from their shoestrings and take in the exciting architecture around them.  Debi does this through "Keeping the Past for the Future", LW!'s award-winning youth education program (learn more here!).  

In addition to Debi's established curriculum -- whereby students work on projects like neighborhood mapping, row house facade design and even holding mock hearings of the Landmarks Preservation Commission -- Debi is also able to call on members of the preservation community to volunteer their time in the service of education.  

In sharing with students their real-world experiences as architects or engineers, for example, these professionals give KPF students a glimpse at how the lessons they're learning with Debi and their teachers translate into "real life".  In November, Debi was joined by Lynne Funk of Rand Engineering & Architecture on a visit to the classroom.  LW! is incredibly thankful to our friends and colleagues at Rand for generously volunteering their time to benefit KPF students.  Enjoy the "report from the field", direct from Rand's Lynne Funk, below!  And if you're interested in learning more about how you can be a part of KPF's mission, let us know! 

A “Real Life Architect” Goes Back to School 
Posted on by Lynne Funk, AIA
Before my visit, the fifth graders had observed nearby row houses and their varied ornamentation. Each student was given an outline of a row house elevation, adding details at cornice level, around the windows, and at the stoop. I brought a set of plans from one of Rand's projects at a nearby building and explained how the details for facades and roofing systems are drawn and scaled.

Rand Architect Lynne Funk explains the details of building design
to a class of budding preservationists at the Bloomingdale School (P.S. 145).
Samantha's success in engaging the kids to learn about buildings and architecture was reflected in their questions: Some of the many questions they asked were: How long does a project takes from start to finish? (From a couple of weeks to a couple of months—or sometimes even years.) Who else beside the architect works on a building? (Engineers, masons, carpenters, roofers, plumbers, electricians, et al.) What's a cornice for? (Mostly ornamental, but it also keeps water from dripping on the facade.) What should you study if you want to be an architect? (Math, design, art, writing, history.)

They were also very interested in what makes buildings stand up—and why they sometimes fall down. To explain how structural supports function, Samantha pointed to the vertical columns and horizontal beams in the classroom, and I described how concrete is reinforced with steel in buildings and how this system differs form the load-bearing walls in the row houses they drew.
I come from a family of engineers, but I loved to draw and to write, so my father steered me toward architecture. I would have loved to have been in a class like Samantha's when I was in elementary school. Based on the enthusiasm I saw in her students, I have a feeling I was looking at some future "real life architects."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

This Holiday Season, Celebrate NYC Architecture

This year, LW! had made some terrific new friends.  One such comrade on the front lines of documenting and reporting West Side happenings, musing on architecture and urban planning in NYC (past and present!), and generally keeping  us engaged with their blog reporting is untapped cities.

They were with us at Landmark Feast in September, and we're looking forward to clacking our castanets together on January 19th for "La Noche Cubana"!  Our thanks to untapped founder and city enthusiast, Michelle Young, for taking a shine to LW! and sharing our work with the community!

We encourage you to check out untapped new york and any other corner of the world you want to explore through the lens of untapped's contributors.  We'll even get you started ...

Below are holiday greetings from untapped to LW! that we're sharing along to you!  These pieces by Downtown Doodler highlight some of our city's iconic architecture (I spy the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center!).  See more from Bernadette Moke, she of downtown doodling renown, on untapped (here!).

Original art by Bernadette Moke / Downtown Doodler

Original art by Bernadette Moke / Downtown Doodler

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

West-Park Celebrates Milestone 100 Years in the Making

Yesterday evening, the congregation of West-Park Presbyterian Church opened its doors to celebrate their 100th year!  To mark the occasion, the Church hosted 100+, a benefit event looking back on the past century of growth and achievements in anticipation of the rejuvenation that has already begun!

West-Park, located on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue at West 86th Street, was alive with theatrical and acoustic musical performances, modern dance and ... an aerialist!  The variety of programming during 100+ speaks to the amazing opportunity for adaptive reuse at West-Park, and the range of partners who could one day call the church "home" and its congregation "neighbors"!

Click here to learn more about how far West-Park has come (and how YOU can be a part of it!), and click here to learn about plans for the future!

Below, a few (somewhat fuzzy) iPhone photos snapped during the evening's merriment:

Rev. Robert Brashear welcomes friends and supporters to 100+.

The beautiful stained glass inside West-Park illuminates the sanctuary.

The evening began with a one-act play, chronicling the history of the church. 
On the left, "Wes" (that is, the church personified) explains to a construction worker his plan
for the future of West-Park.
In the balcony above the sanctuary, members of Times Square Playwrights perform.

In the parish house, musician Amanda Christine performs.

Aerialist Rachel Hsiung stuns and mesmerizes the crowd amid balloons and cupcakes aplenty.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Deck Your Halls with Gifts from LANDMARK WEST!

For gift giving inspiration this holiday season, you need look no further than LANDMARK WEST's booth at this weekend's GreenFlea Market (entrance to the yard is free)! Come with your pocket book at the ready and leave with the perfect gifts for your nearest and dearest.

    WHEN: This Sunday, December 4th
                 10AM to 5:30PM
  WHERE: Schoolyard on Columbus Ave.
                  between 76th and 77th Streets

                       Click here view the location on Google maps
What's for sale, you ask? The items below, and so much more!

"Vintage" prints, photos and postcards galore! We've dug deep into our archives and will be bringing some wonderful treasures that are sure to bring joy to whomever receives them. Most items are "one of a kind", so come early and have your pick from our collection, featuring fantastic historic maps of Manhattan, whimsical articles and illustrations from Harper's Weekly, stunning turn-of-the-century panoramas of Fifth Avenue, and so much more!

We last opened our print and photograph vault in September for the Columbus Avenue Street Festival. With almost each purchase we were told "These maps are terrific! You should really consider selling them at the GreenFlea market." You shared your suggestion; we listened! 

We hope you'll stop by this Sunday!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

GUEST BLOG :: Buffalo's Central Terminal rides the rails to restoration

As reported by LW! graduate intern Kate Gilmore 

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel holidays. We all move to and fro at a frenzied pace and rarely do we stop to appreciate the fantastic structures that facilitate such rapid transportation.

This past Wednesday, as I waited for my train in New York's Penn Station, every corner was bustling with activity. Alas, present-day Penn Station is depressing and dark -- a far cry from the illuminated, soaring space of McKim, Mead and White's original building.

Original Penn Station Interior

However, magnificent train stations still exist!  One in particular that has fallen into disuse and is not well-known is Buffalo Central Terminal located in East Buffalo.  Luckily, I was able to visit this amazing train station during the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference in October.  Buffalo Central Terminal is an impressive -- both visually and physically! -- art deco masterpiece designed by architects Fellheimer and Wagner.  Fellheimer had worked on the architectural team that built Grand Central Station, and together with Wagner was best known for Buffalo Central Terminal and Cincinati's Union Terminal.

Exterior of Buffalo Central Terminal, c. 1930s.
Source: Buffalo History Works
The Buffalo terminal's construction began in 1927, and BCT opened to the public on June 22, 1929. Just fifty years later, on October 28, 1979, the last train left BCT. The building then went through a series of different owners. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the building was used as a salvage site. Nothing was done in order to try and revitalize the structure with activities that would make use of the space itself.

Main Terminal in Disrepair.
Source: Buffalo History Works
In 1997, the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation purchased the building and began the painstaking process of restoration. Through weekend volunteer sessions and public activities, CTRC has brought people back into the magnificent terminal space. The BCT is an amazing tribute to the former dominance of rail transportation, and CTRC had committed to work with the structure to ensure its re-use. Visit their website to see the current master plan for the structure and learn more about public events.

So the next time your train pulls into the station, remember that the history of rail travel has produced some excellent architecture -- to be celebrated and used by current generations.


For more from Kate Gilmore, check out:

The Future of Development on the Upper West Side, July 7, 2011 

From East Side to West Side, newsracks making headlines, July 18, 2011

"Honor the Past, Celebrate the Future" with West-Park

West-Park Presbyterian Church
165 West 86th Street

West-Park Presbyterian Church has achieved some major milestones in the last few years.  Certainly one would be the Individual Landmark designation by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in early 2010 (affirmed by the City Council later that May!). 

Next Monday, December 5th, the church is celebrating another major (and we mean major!) moment: its 100th Anniversary! 

To mark the occasion, the leadership and congregation at West-Park are hosting "100+", a benefit event that will honor West-Park’s history of social justice advocacy, inclusivity, and support for culture and the arts, and will offer an exciting glimpse—and celebration—of the future. 

Projected on the horizon for West-Park is the revitalization of the landmark building (which has received a terrific boon this fall thanks to handfuls of generous supporters of West-Park), and the founding and development of The Center at West-Park.

To learn more about the 100+ Benefit Event, click on the graphic below!

If you're unable to attend but would like to learn more about how you can support West-Park's rejuvenation, email us at

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Return of the Urns

Thank you, David Dunlap and The New York Times for drawing attention to the demon that plagues historic neighborhoods under active consideration for landmark protection.  Too many heedless owners rush to destroy the very fabric that makes buildings in these neighborhoods architecturally significant, but more importantly, fabric that is integral to the quality of life of the people who live here.

“It was one of the most traumatic days of my life,”said Kennedy Fraser, a 35-year resident of 333 West 86th Street, a building located in a proposed extension of the Riverside-West End Historic District (PDF).  Fraser described her feelings as she watched contractors remove 16 magnificent masonry urns from the building's facade last May.

Read Dunlap's article to find out how neighbors succeeded in bringing the urns back (albeit in fiberglass because the originals had been too badly damaged through removal).

It's a crying shame--and an expensive mistake.  Property owners, hear this message:

“Everybody responds to beauty,” Ms. Fraser said. “People think it doesn’t matter, that nobody will see them, that they’re just a poetic detail. But somehow, it’s important to have those things that not everybody notices.”

...but that they will fight for.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Alpha-Branches and Number-Limbs: Fun in Central Park!

We couldn't have asked for nicer weather on Sunday, November 13th for LW's family program, The ABCs of Central Park, led by author and artist Gerald Lynas (visit to see his work). The air was crisp and the leaves were crunching as families searched for and photographed the alphabet -- in the trees! Keep scrolling to see photos from the walk!

We even found our own initials in the trees!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Toast: To the future of preservation! To the young professionals!

Upon arrival at the Hi-Life Restaurant. Cristiana and Sarah's Twitter storm begins!
The distinct neon signage* pulled us in like a tractor beam ...

Thank you to all the young professionals out there -- the recent graduates, the "payin' your dues" AutoCad specialists, the Lorax-like advocates, the alternative transportation enthusiasts, the current students, and more! -- who joined us last night for our first ever happy hour.

The event was an indisputable success, with NYC's future preservation and planning movers and shakers rubbing shoulders and networking up a storm.  We got the message loud and clear: more young professionals events, please!  If you have a specific idea of an event, don't hesitate to contact Sarah Sher, LW's Program Coordinator. 

Former LW! graduate intern and Pratt HP alum Will Vogel (far left) with
fellow Pratt HP students and alums.
For scenes and musings from the event, which took place at the Upper West Side's own Hi-Life Bar & Grill (a supporter of LW's 2011 Unsung Heroes Awards!), check out the Twitter feed featuring #YoungLW.

We leave you with the tweet of former LW! intern and Pratt HP grad Will Vogel: 

"As we students say, 'Raze a toast. Not our buildings!' #YoungLW "


*Consider yourself a neon signage enthusiast? Save the date for December 5th, when LW! will host a slide lecture with Kirsten Hivley of Project Neon.  More here ...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Central Park Was Made for Fall

Photo, taken with Instagram, via @jamiezoob
This picture of fall in Central Park is so stunning; had to share it.  Happy fall, everyone! 

Get out there and enjoy the City's first Scenic Landmark: Central Park!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Celebrating 200 Years of Life on the Grid

Preservation largely documents the history of our built environment and cultural heritage.  But who documents the history of preservation itself?  That'd be the New York Preservation Archive Project (NYPAP)! 

For over a decade, NYPAP, under the leadership of Anthony C. Wood, has carefully kept tabs on the historic preservation movement in New York City -- the movers and shakers whose activism and and decision-making has shaped the City's Landmarks Law, the projects and legal cases that have defined the fight to preserve New York's historic resources.

One such hero of preservation celebrated by NYPAP is Andrew H. Green (more on him below!).  And this Saturday, November 12th,
we (that means you!) are all invited to join the office of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer to honor his contributions to the City.

The Andrew Haswell Green Bench in Central Park, via Wikipedia.


Join Manhattan Borough Historian Michael Miscione as we raise a toast of non-alcoholic cider to the memory of Andrew H. Green. Though Green’s name is unfamiliar to most New Yorkers his legacy is everywhere: Central Park, Riverside Park, and Morningside Park; the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the New York Public Library; and indeed, the very five-borough city that exists today. Green, who is sometimes described as a 19th-century Robert Moses, was a pioneering city planner and preservationist, and the driving force behind the movement to consolidate the municipalities around New York Harbor into a single metropolis.

In honor of the 200th anniversary of the Manhattan street grid plan, this year’s ceremony will focus on Green’s substantial modifications to that plan’s original design.

Saturday, November 12th
Andrew H. Green Memorial Bench, inside Central Park 
(see below for a map and directions)
FREE and open to the general public

The Green Memorial Bench is located inside Central Park at about 105th Street. It is extremely difficult to find and is not marked on most park maps. For a printable/downloadable map with detailed directions click here.  

From the East Side: At Fifth Avenue and E. 102 Street, enter the park via the pedestrian entrance. Make your way onto the main auto drive. Walk north on the drive for about two blocks. When you come to the standing three-sided map on your left (the composting operation will be on your right), turn left on to the wide, well-paved crossover road that heads to the West Side. Take an immediate right onto the blacktop footpath that heads uphill. Bear right as you walk along the footpath. The bench is at the top of the hill.

From the West Side: At Central Park West and W. 100 Street, enter the park via the automobile entrance road. Bear left, merging on to the main drive. Continue walking north on the drive for about two blocks. Before the drive crosses a stone bridge, turn right onto the wide, well-paved crossover road that heads to the East Side. This road will be marked with an "Authorized Vehicles Only" sign. Continue down this road, passing a little police kiosk on your right. Just before the road intersects with the main east drive, turn left onto the blacktop footpath that heads uphill. Bear right as you walk along the footpath. The bench is at the top of the hill.

Note: There is a lot of construction taking place at the north end of the park right now which might make some of these directions unworkable. Be prepared to improvise!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Things are Warming Up at West-Park Presbyterian Church

West-Park Presbyterian Church
165 West 86th Street
Since its induction into the West Side landmark family in 2010, the community has filled West-Park Presbyterian Church with helping hands; we've seen it filled with intrigue and theatrical flair and with heavenly voices and inspirational instrumentsNow, let's fill West-Park with one of the basic essentials: heat!

Join the leadership and congregation of West-Park, Council Member Gale Brewer, members of the city-wide preservation community, and neighbors and supporters of West-Park next Thursday, November 10th, from 6-8PM for a fundraiser to benefit the church's boiler repair/replacement fund. 

Repairing or replacing the existing boiler is a major priority since, without heat, the congregation will be unable to use the church this winter, stalling efforts to revitalize the building.  Attend this upcoming fundraiser to contribute to this project and to hear updates as to "next steps" in the ongoing rejuvenation of this captivating red sandstone landmark.

             WHAT : Fundraiser to benefit 
                           West-Park Presbyterian Church
             WHEN : Thursday, Nov. 10th, 6-8PM
           WHERE : The Belnord Apartments
                           225 West 86th Street
                                 RSVP required; please email

Community Members Help LW! Meet the Challenge!
In the month of October, the congregation at West-Park received a challenge grant that would match up to $25,000 of monies raised toward the much needed repair/replacement of the church's insufficient boiler.  LW! reached out to its network of West-Park supporters and neighbors to inspire them to make a modest contribution -- $100, $50, whatever worked for each individual or family! -- and help toward the church's $25,000 goal.  We set forth a challenge: to raise $2,500 towards the total $25,000 needed.  In less than two weeks ... done!

The New York Landmarks Conservancy, who is administering the boiler fund, reported that indeed, the $25,000 goal was met (a total of $50,000 with matching funds).  The boiler project is estimated at $84,000 total -- help us go the distance.  Attend the November 10th fundraiser; be a part of the renewal of this community resource!

Preserving West-Park: Looking back to move forward
A 20-year community effort was thankfully rewarded on May 12, 2010, when the New York City Council affirmed the designation of the West-Park Presbyterian Church as a NYC Individual Landmark (click here to read the designation report).  The victory kickstarted a new chapter in the life of West-Park. 

Here's just a snapshot at some of the recent activity of LW!, the West-Park congregants, our local elected officials, and preservation colleagues, including the New York Landmarks Conservancy, Friends of West-Park, and Preservation Alumni:  

  • Long-time West-Park congregant and West Sider Jim Wadsworth secured a generous $5,000 donation from the Lois G. Roy Dickerman Fund as seed money towards replacing West-Park's failing boiler.  "The boiler must be in place in order to secure the development partners and renters necessary to fulfill our emerging business plan," Rev. Brashear shared.  The Dickerman Fund gift--made in honor of Mr. Wadsworth's late wife, Carol--is the first dedicated donation to the boiler project.

  • City Council Member Gale Brewer organized a fundraiser to collect starter funds for bricks-and-mortar restoration of West-Park.  The fund, managed by the New York Landmarks Conservancy, was recently put to work with roof repairs to West-Park's sanctuary and chapel.  At the same time, the Conservancy spent $10,000 from a special Rockefeller Foundation grant to initiate architectural services to establish a phased exterior restoration plan.  The plan will be completed this month, with a priority to facade work that will allow the removal of the sidewalk bridge at long last.  A significant step in the long process of West-Park's physical rejuvenation!

    The West-Park restoration fund remains open for contributions!  Checks can be made payable to "New York Landmarks Conservancy," with "WPPC" as the memo, and mailed to:

                     New York Landmarks Conservancy
                     ATTN: Peg Breen, President
                     1 Whitehall Street
                     New York, NY  10004

  • Members of the West-Park congregation teamed with Preservation Alumni, the alumni organization for graduates of Columbia University's Historic Preservation Masters Program, LW!, Friends of West-Park, and the generous team of Jack Pontes Brownstone Restorations for a day-long interior clean up of the church's sanctuary.  Dusting, vacuuming, buffing, scrubbing ... you name it!  Dozens of volunteers turned out to put their muscles to work for the preservation of West-Park.   

  • LW! worked with architects and an electrician to upgrade the church's wiring and emergency exit lighting to help make it possible for the congregation to open its doors for public events, such as a holiday craft fair in December and this summer's Bridge Concert Series.  
The all-volunteer crew celebrates the successful clean-up of West-Park in December 2010.

Designation was only the beginning of what must continue to be a robust, sustained, community-wide effort.  Full restoration of West-Park Presbyterian Church will be a major undertaking, but we must begin with manageable goals, such as the ongoing development of a strategic plan.

See you at the fundraiser!

Monday, October 31, 2011

West Side Spirit Gives Thanks to Local Heroes

Top to bottom, left to right: Batya Lewton, Melissa Elstein,
Victor Gonzalez, and Dee Rieber.
All photos by West Side Spirit.
Protecting the special character of our Upper West Side neighborhood is a never ending effort, and one shared on the shoulders of many.  LANDMARK WEST! calls the individuals and organizations who do their part to honor our history and community "Unsung Heroes".  Local newspaper and online news source The West Side Spirit shows its gratitude with its annual WESTY Awards!

As the West Side Spirit reported on on Wendesday, Oct. 26th, "the 2011 WESTY Awards (West Side Spirit Thanks You) took place the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 19 at Jewish Home Lifecare. Harold Holzer of The Metropolitan Museum of Art was the master of ceremonies, and 20 west siders were honored for their contributions to the community."

LW! congratulates all of this year's winners, such as those pictured here.  To Batya Lewton of Coalition for a Livable West Side, Melissa Elstein of the West 80s Neighborhood Association, and to Dee Rieber of the West 75th Street Block Association (read about Melissa's and Dee's work here), THANK YOU for your stalwart support of the community's long and ongoing efforts regarding the proposed West End Avenue historic district extensions.  And to our good friend Victor Gonzalez, we thank you for your support of our Amsterdam Houses advocacy initiatives.

Third Time's a Charm :: Recap of final public hearing at LPC for West End Avenue

Last Tuesday, October 25th, LANDMARK WEST! joined with fellow West Siders, elected officials, preservation colleagues, and lovers of landmarks to show our continued support for the proposed historic district extensions anchored by West End Avenue.

Convened by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), this was the last in a series of three public hearings to seriously consider historic district extensions to two existing districts: the Riverside - West End Historic District, and the West End - Collegiate Historic District.

This spring marked the first public hearing (for the Riverside - West End Historic District Extension I on March 22th, 2011); later this summer, on June 28th, the LPC opened the record to discuss the West End - Collegiate Historic District Extension.  And the fall season set the seen for discussion of the Riverside - West End Historic District Extension II, on Oct. 25th.

Click the arrow above to visit LW's Flickr page and experience West End Avenue,
Riverside Drive, Broadway, and the streets between.

To all of our friends and neighbors who came to the LPC; who took to the podium to testify; who sat as "silent supporters" of the West End Avenue proposal; who wrote emails and letters in absentia; and who helped spread the word about yesterday's public hearing far and wide ...  THANK YOU!

Our favorite quote from the hearing has to be the testimony of West Sider (and member of Three Parks Independent Democrats, who hosted the October 12th pre-public hearing info session about the landmark designation process) Steve Max:

The journey is far from over! The public record on the proposed Riverside - West End Historic District Extension II remains open--there's till time to add more emails and letters of support to those recorded at the Oct. 25th public hearing! Use this quick "how to", and share it with your friends.  And if you haven't already, please SIGN THE PETITION!  Add your name to the list of those who support the West End Avenue historic district extensions.

Couldn't make the public hearing? Stay tuned to our YouTube channel for video of the public testimony and, for photos, to our Flickr photostream.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Look Up": Architectural photography student shares photos

Photo by Gotham Girl
It's not just the devil that's in the details.  There's beauty in cornices, lampposts and dormer windows!  

Earlier this month, photographer John Hart led a small group of folks on an architectural photography walking tour of the Upper West Side.  With his guidance, they learned to train their eyes on the details hidden within the buildings surrounding us.  

One member of the tour, blogger Gotham Girl, shared her photos.  We're no experts, but we'd say she was a quick study on how the camera brings out the unexpected beauty of our bricks-and-mortar resources.  In the photo at right -- the landmark-in-waiting Level Club, 253 West 73rd Street -- we adore how the metal tracery atop the sculpted column plays on the soft beige brick.

Thank you, Gotham Girl, for sharing your individual perspective on the West Side!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tomorrow, We Testify! Come show your support for West End Avenue (and environs)!

WHAT:    Public hearing to consider the Riverside - West End Historic District Extension II
               (W. 89th - 109th Sts. - click here for the proposed boundary map)

WHEN:   TOMORROW, Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

                Time approx. 2:30PM*
                *This can sometimes be a moving target, depending on the pacing 

                 of earlier items on the agenda. West End Avenue could be heard 
                 right on time, or it could run late. Patience and flexibility of schedule 
                 are key! Can't make it? See below!  

WHERE:   Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)
                  1 Centre Street, 9th Floor -- Bring photo ID
                  (Click here for directions)

Attending the public hearing is incredibly important; your presence speaks volumes. This is the last of three total public hearings being convened to discuss this important neighborhood issue. Come to show your support not only for the third and final piece of the puzzle, but for all of the area anchored by West End Avenue proposed for historic district designation!
Please let us know if you are planning to attend.

And if you haven't already, don't forget ...

(1) Sign the Petition!
Add your name to the list of those who support the West End Avenue historic district extensions. And encourage your friends and neighbors to sign as well!

(2) Email the LPC, and copy your elected official(s)! Tell them you support their efforts to expand existing historic districts anchored by West End Avenue. Here's how to do it!

For continual updates on this advocacy issue, stay tuned to the LANDMARK WEST! blog!

We'll see you tomorrow at the Commission!

Friday, October 21, 2011

A View from the Top: New book "Windows on Central Park"

A quick post to share some Friday inspiration, from yesterday's "A View of Central Park, or 100 of Them", by James Barron.

Photo from Betsy Pinover Schiff's new book, "Windows on Central Park" (via NY Times).
Taken from an apartment on Central Park West and 90th Street.
We can't wait to flip through Betsy Pinover Schiff's latest, "Windows on Central Park", to see for ourselves the incredible views she's captured.  The image above (possibly from the El Dorado?) is a compelling visual argument for the beauty of historic casement windows.  Breathtaking!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Preservation and Pilsner, a Winning Combination!

 Join LANDMARK WEST! for our first-ever...
 Young Professionals Happy Hour!
The time has come to cleanse your palette of wine* and cheese, and drink a $4.50 pint or a $5 cocktail with other professionals & students interested in architecture, preservation and the Upper West Side.

Festivities will be held at the Hi-Life Bar & Grill, a NYC Landmark described by New York Magazine as a "part forties film-noir set, part Prohibition-era speakeasy." So stop by to meet new friends, network, learn about LW!, and converse about what kind of events you'd like to see in the future.  Bring your friends and colleagues!

Thursday, November 10, 2011
6-8 p.m.
Hi-Life Bar & Grill*
83rd & Amsterdam Avenue
No cover
$4.50 domestic draft pints, $5 cosmos
$5 champagne cocktails, $3.50 Bud bottles
(also 1/2 price sushi until 7 p.m.!)
RSVPs encouraged:

*Wine will be also be available!
*Hi-Life Bar & Grill is located in the UWS/Central Park West Historic District

Living with Landmarks is "Living with History"

Landmarks are not frozen in time; they are forever evolving and adapting to the needs of our community. The Upper West Side is home to one of the greatest concentrations of landmarks in the city -- indeed, the Upper West Side - Central Park West Historic District (designated 1990) is one of the largest districts in the city, home to nearly 2,700 landmark-protected buildings. As such, West Siders understand as acutely as anyone else the absolute truth that to live in and with a landmark is to live with its history. Most importantly, our contemporary interactions with our bricks-and-mortar resources are, themselves, adding a new layer to a building's history. It is this historically rich palimpsest that makes our landmark heritage -- and the Upper West Side! -- so special.

This weekend's symposium at the Museum of the City of New York will showcase extraordinary projects that have aimed to bring historic buildings back to life. The half-day symposium will highlight various and sometimes controversial approaches to preserving the past while accommodating the needs of modern life.

Living With History:
Restoring, Redesigning, and Reviving New York's Landmark Interiors

Saturday, October 22, 2011, from 9:30 AM to 1 PM
The Museum of the City of New York

1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street

Co-sponsored by The New York School of Interior Design

Tickets are $25 for members, $35 for non-members; to register, click here
** SPECIAL OFFER ** mention this flyer, and non-members get $10 off admission!

Included in the symposium will be a look at the expert restoration of the stunning Interior Landmark, the Beacon Theatre (located at 2124 Broadway, between West 73rd and 74th Streets; more below!), in addition to the controversial retrofitting of the International Style Manufacturers Hanover Trust building on Fifth Avenue. Carol Krinsky, Professor of Art History at NYU, author of: Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore Owings & Merrill (1988), will discuss the former Manufacturers Trust Building and the impact of controversial Landmarks Commission-approved alterations upon the designated landmark interior. For more on this, visit, the website of the Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation.

LOOKING BACK at Save the Beacon Theatre ...

The legendary Beacon Theatre--a New York City Interior Landmark--was saved not by chance, but by the sustained efforts of the citizen-advocates of Save the Beacon Theatre.

A look inside the restored Beacon Theatre.

More recently, in 2006, Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSGE) acquired the legendary venue and made a commitment to the city that it would restore the Beacon to its original grandeur. In 2008, MSGE embarked on a $17 million restoration, allowing audiences to experience its original majestic design. Working with architecture firm Beyer Blinder Belle, the restoration has been more than just a rehearsal, but a true tour de force performance!

On October 8, 2009, to mark this preservation achievement, LANDMARK WEST! honored the Save the Beacon Theatre group with one of our 2009 "Unsung Heroes of the Upper West Side" Awards.
Though it is truly a wonder to behold, the majestically restored Beacon Theatre is no "Miracle on 74th Street." Planned as the Roxy Midway Theatre and opened in 1929, the future Beacon was the brainchild of theatrical impresario Samuel "Roxy" Rothfel (who later helped create Radio City Music Hall) and planned as a part of the Roxy Circuit of "movie palaces." Chicago architect Walter Ahlschlager designed The Beacon in an opulent pastiche of historical styles.

The interior was renowned for its flawless acoustics and became a coveted venue for musical superstars. It was designated as an official NYC Interior Landmark in 1979. Still, its future was not secure. In 1986, Save the Beacon Theatre formed in swift response to a developer's proposal to carve out the space for a discotheque-a plan that, incredibly, was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Years of grassroots advocacy and legal action kept destruction at bay until, finally, the tide turned. Today, under MSGE's stewardship, more than 100 concerts and events take place annually at The Beacon Theatre, and it has once again recaptured is prominence as one of the most vibrant theaters in New York City.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Hidden in Plain Sight: Discover the Mechanics' Institute

As reported by graduate intern Kate Gilmore

Left, American Architect and Building News/Office for Metropolitan History;
G. Paul Burnett, via The New York Times

On its exterior, 20 West 44th Street is an imposing, majestic edifice (d
esigned by architects Lamb & Rich) on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Inside is one of New York's best kept secrets!

Inside the library's reading room.  Image via NYC

It is home to the Mechanics' Institute- the city's oldest technical school. Mechanic insitutues were originally created as a place for adult continuing education, and the coursework focused on technical skills. The New York Mechanics' Institute was founded in 1858 with the aim of providing "privately-endowed free evening instruction to respectable young men and women to improve themselves in their daily vocations."

The Mechanics' Institute still offers free continuing education.The Institute provides instruction in a variety of disciplines including electrical technology, facilities management, plumbing design and historic preservation. Courses are open to all, whether you're a curious individual looking to learn a new skill or a professional hoping to enhance your repertoire of knowledge. For more information, visit their website.

FUN FACT: 20 West 44th Street is also home to John M. Mossman Lock Museum, which has one of the largest collections of bank and vault locks.