West End Avenue landmarking moves a bit ahead

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is taking early steps toward

Photo from the New York Daily News

designating as a historic district a large swath of West End Avenue from 70th Street to 107th Street, according to the Observer.

The LPC is currently surveying side streets that will form the borders of the district, said LPC spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon. But not until next year will the measure be put on the LPC calendar, the first offical step toward landmarking.  Said de Bourbon:

“We are taking the preliminary steps to creating a district.”Signs point in the direction that the commission is serious about this.

“It is a priority. We understand the urgency, but at the same time, there are neighborhoods across the city that are fighting for districts as well. We don’t have any established timeline, because we have so many things in the pipeline.”

The Upper West Side already includes seven historic districts, including West End Avenue from 87th Street to 94th Street and West End Avenue from 74th to 78th Street. The new district would encompass several existing districts.

Certainly, all of us have come to respect the need for historic preservation.  But even living as I do a couple of blocks from West End Avenue, where stately apartment buildings from the early 20th century march in lockstep, I confess to, at best, ambivalence about the landmarking effort.

In our young country, we have developed an inordinate respect for things old.  At the same time, they are viewed as laughably infantile in Europe and Asia, for example.  I don’t know that preservation for the sake of preservation as a knee-jerk reaction to change always make sense.  Sometimes the most banal of structures are caught in the wide-eyed net of preservation when, perhaps, they are best forgotten.

Furthermore, if the trend to indiscriminate designation continues, there will be little room left for progress.  Innovation in architecture–there is, after all, a limited amount of vacant land–will take a bumpy back seat to preservation.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

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