The advocate for New York City’s historic neighborhoods and architectural "gems,” the Historic Districts Council (HDC), launched its “Six to Celebrate” campaign at a party last Wednesday, held at the Bowery Poetry Club (308 Bowery at E. First St.), in Manhattan.
The Six to Celebrate program was created in 2011, as part of HDC’s 40th anniversary celebration-- based on HDC’s 2nd annual list of six notable nabes that merit consideration from the Landmarks and Preservation Commission, the city agency charged with identifying, designating and regulating structures of historic significance - and administering the Landmarks Preservation Law.
The most effective means to ensure that a property is appropriately preserved and protected, the law states that a building must be at least thirty years old before the Commission can declare it a landmark.
The chosen Six come from proposals submitted by community groups across the city, on the basis of architectural/historic significance of the area, level of threat to the neighborhood, strength and willingness of local advocates, and where HDC’s city-wide preservation perspective and assistance could be the most meaningful.
“Neighborhoods throughout New York are fighting an unseen struggle to determine their own futures,” said Simeon Bankoff, HDC’s executive director. “By bringing these locally-driven preservation efforts into the spotlight, HDC hopes to focus New Yorkers’ attention on the very real threats that historic communities are facing from indiscriminate and inappropriate development.”
Throughout 2012, HDC will provide strategic help to the chosen six through advocacy, community development and educational programs, working with these community partners to set and reach preservation goals.
Bankoff said, “The program will help raise awareness of local efforts to save neighborhoods on a city-wide level.”
Three of the 2012 Six are in our own backyard:
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Steeped in history, it’s a quintessential N.Y.C. nabe, boasting elegant rowhouses, beautiful Victorian-era mansions and pre-war apartment buildings.
Its parks, vibrant commercial streets and impressive institutional buildings make this architecturally and ethnically diverse 250-block area worthy of special attention.
For 30 plus years, the Bay Ridge Conservancy has sought to preserve and revamp its unique community.
Victorian Flatbush, Brooklyn
Few people know that there are more Victorian wood-frame homes in this area than elsewhere in the country, along with five New York City Historic Districts. A coalition of 6 neighborhood groups representing approximately 2,000 embellished “lovelies” - Detached, one- and two-family houses built between 1907 and the First World War - are seeking landmark status here.
Far Rockaway Beachside Bungalows, Queens
Just off the Boardwalk on Beach 24th, 25th, and 26th Streets, rows of vacant beach bungalows built between 1918 and 1921 still stand.
Long ago, this was a summer getaway for working-class New Yorkers. These days, the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association’s mission is to preserve and revitalize approximately 100 buildings here.
“These areas seek funding in order to have a report written up, to place them on the National Register of Historic Places,” Bankoff said, adding: “This would open them up to additional protections from public actions, making them eligible for public funding for restorations.”
The rest of the 2012 Six are: Morningside Heights, Manhattan, Port Morris Gantries and Van Cortlandt Village, The Bronx.
Bankoff also noted that last year’s list resulted in positive strides toward protection of several city areas.
In Bedford-Stuyvestant, several standing-room only community meetings about preservation led to an extraordinarily positive public hearing before the LPC, regarding expansion of Stuyvesant Heights Historic District.
Invigorated local leadership continues to actively campaign for preservation of other sections of this neighborhood; the LPC is actively considering over 8,000 buildings for possible designation here.
In Gowanus, Brooklyn funding secured from state/national partners for a National Register of Historic Places survey and nomination for the area; work has begun on the project. Community residents organized to review/comment on a planned big-box store, which impacted an historic site.