Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Reliving "The Battle for Bryant Park"

Last week, the Historic Districts Council hosted its Annual Conference.  This year's theme was "The Great Outside", asking preservationists and architectural enthusiasts to consider the open space around our much-loved brick-and-mortar treasures.

LW! was there, tracking all the conference action via Twitter (#GreatOutsideConf -- our thumbs are still aching from all the documentation via iPhone!).  

The "The Great Outside" conference themes live on, in upcoming programming from our friends at HDC ... 

From the LW! archives, an R.O. Blechman-designed invitation
to honor Anthony M. Tung in 1988
The Battle of Bryant Park, 25 Years On
A Discussion with Anthony Tung
Thursday, March 8, 6:00pm 
Neighborhood Preservation Center
232 East 11th Street. Free!
Reservations required; please call (212) 614-9107 or contact

Co-sponsored with the New York Preservation Archive Project 
and the Neighborhood Preservation Center 

On January 8, 1987, The New York Times reported: "A four-year-old plan to build a restaurant behind the New York Public Library has been dealt a surprising setback, with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission warning that it would consider 'absolutely untenable' any structure that would make it difficult to view the library’s west facade." The author of the motion was Commissioner Anthony Tung.
Five days later, on Sunday, in "A Landmark of Misfeasance" the Times editorial board called for the replacement of every member of the Commission.
By Monday, Tony Tung had been sacked. But it took 18 turbulent months for the mayor to finally unseat him.

Marking the 25-year anniversary of this battle, which energized the entire preservation community, Anthony Tung will join Anthony C. Wood and Jeffrey Kroessler to re-examine the controversy of 25 years ago.  The discussion will examine how this episode affected the independence of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and relations between the preservation community and the commission, as well as the implications for the present.

Anthony Max Tung lectures internationally on historic preservation and has taught historic preservation at MIT and Columbia. He is the author of Preserving the World’s Great Cities: The Destruction and Renewal of the Historic Metropolis.

Anthony C. Wood is the founder of the New York Preservation Archives Project, Chair Emeritus of the Historic Districts Council, member of the Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation, and advisor to preservationists across the city and state. He is the author of Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City’s Landmarks.

Jeffrey A. Kroessler is a longtime board member of HDC and member of the Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation. He is the author of New York, Year by Year and The Greater New York Sports Chronology. He is an associate professor in the library at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Special thanks to Arlene Simon and LANDMARK WEST! for the invitation to the 1988 party honoring Anthony Tung  – at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery (art by R.O. Blechman)

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