Friday, June 5, 2015

Saving Places at MCNY

"Saving Place establishes landmarks as a key to urban dynamism, not as some fuddy-duddy concept. These are living, vital buildings.” — Susan Henshaw Jones, director of the Museum of the City of New York, quoted in The New York Times.

Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks
April 21-September 13, 2015 at the Museum of the City of New York
By Silvia Callegari, LW! Preservation Intern

Saving Place exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York

On May 19, LANDMARK WEST! and about 30 friends had the tremendous opportunity to visit this exhibition with none other than one of its curators, Andrew S. Dolkart (also, we are proud to say, a LW! board member).

Professor Andrew S. Dolkart at the museum
“Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks,” currently on exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Landmarks Law. The exhibit was curated by Donald Albrecht, the City Museum’s Curator of Architecture and Design, and Andrew S. Dolkart, the Director of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia University, with Seri Worden as consulting curator, currently a consultant at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

New York City continues to be a city that, as Walt Whitman said in 1845, and is quoted in the introductory welcome, has a “pull down and build over again spirit.” Whitman introduces the up and down narrative that has been playing out in New York City since before 1965 when the Landmarks Law was enacted. The exhibition highlights events in the 50 year lifespan of the Landmarks Law, the people who fought for it and the sites that raised public awareness for the city’s need of it. Pointing to specific buildings that were saved and lost, the exhibition raises the voices that have been questioning the intersection between development and preservation for the last 50 years. These issues are as relevant as ever as development is escalating and new heights and general change are happening at faster rates.
Accoutrements of advocacy on display,
including the 2 Columbus Circle yellow lollipop

From about 1994 to 2005, a preservation battle went down at Columbus Circle over Edward Durell Stone’s 2 Columbus Circle, completed in 1964. LW! rallied against the Museum of Art & Design’s proposed changes to the building. As part of its campaign, LW! produced themed Lollipops (one of which is on exhibition here) because 2 Columbus Circle was often called the Lollipop Building-- for the building’s unique colonnade (one of the few original elements of the building to survive the renovation). Though it was not fully demolished like others, Penn Station in 1963, or the Ziegfeld Theater in 1966, 2 Columbus Circle goes down in history as a sad preservation loss.

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