NEWS AND ISSUES
May 5, 2011
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
One Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Dear Chair Tierney,
As the State Senator representing part of the area the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is studying for prospective designation as the East Village Historic District, I greatly appreciate LPC's having undertaken this effort. Along with LPC's study of the prospective East 10th Street Historic District, and its designation in 2008 of numerous individual landmarks, including Webster Hall, Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Anshe Ungarn synagogue, Wheatsworth Bakery building, Elizabeth Home for Girls, and the 11th Street Public Baths building, this study is another important step in preserving the East Village/Lower East Side's rich heritage and historic character.
As you know, the study area LPC has defined for the proposed East Village Historic District contains nearly 300 properties, many of which are tenements, row houses, or institutional buildings from the 19th century and reflect the immigrant experience during this unique era in New York history. Included within its boundaries are such architectural treasures as 62 East 4th Street, with its Italianate shapes and lines and its distinctive, enclosed cylindrical fire escape; the neo-classical Congregation Mezritch Synagogue, the Lower East Side and East Village's last operating "tenement synagogue," with its noble arches and stately pilasters; and the group of five, three-story brick rowhouses at 30-38 East 3rd Street, which comprise a quintessential mid-19th century streetscape.
While I strongly support LPC's proposed East Village and East 10th Street Historic Districts, I should note that many other buildings not far outside the study areas likewise have architectural, cultural and historic significance and, with neighboring structures, a cumulative "sense of place" which makes them worthy of consideration for individual landmark and/or historic district protections.
Although parts of the East Village/Lower East Side currently enjoy protections from egregious overdevelopment as a result of New York City's recent East Village/Lower East Side and Third Avenue Corridor rezonings and the longstanding St. Mark's Historic District, much of the neighborhood's intact, historic streetscapes remain vulnerable to the spate of demolition and non-contextual development that has taken hold in the past decade.
I am very much aware of the limits of LPC's resources and the many worthy requests LPC receives from across the five boroughs, including many within my Senate District. However, I encourage LPC to not only move forward with the current prospective designations, but also to consider additional proposals put forth by local preservationist organizations, particularly the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
Thank you for LPC's dedication to preserving the East Village/Lower East Side's continuity and historic character. I look forward to continuing to work with you towards that end.
Thomas K. Duane
New York State Senate
29th Senate District