Thursday, October 20, 2011

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.

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