Events & News

NYC Landmarks50 Alliance: Planning the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Landmarks Law

NYC Landmarks50 Alliance: Planning the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Landmarks Law

October 14, 2013
Article from the Fall 2013 Newsletter

In the spring 2013 newsletter, the Archive Project reported on the exciting launch of the NYC Landmarks50 Alliance. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Landmarks Law in 2015, over the next two years this alliance will work to broaden appreciation of and commitment to New York City’s landmarks through a series of events held throughout the five boroughs. The New York Preservation Archive Project is a founding member and financial supporter of the NYC Landmarks50 Alliance. Other members include the Friends of the High Line, the Museum of Modern Art, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the Park Avenue Armory, Pratt Institute, and many more. To view a full list of members, and to learn more about the alliance, please visit NYC Landmarks50.

Each member of the NYC Landmarks50 Alliance is planning a special project to commemorate the upcoming anniversary, and many of these plans are already underway. In spring 2015, the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) will open the first-ever exhibition to focus exclusively on New York City’s designated landmark interiors. With guest curator Hugh Hardy, leading American architect, the show will offer an appraisal of the city’s progress in preserving its significant interiors since the 1973 amendments to the 1965 Landmarks Law enabling the protection of interiors. In its East 69th Street gallery space, NYSID will focus on a select group of the City’s 114 landmark interiors—representing theaters, lobbies, banks, and retail and civic spaces in the five boroughs—to trigger discussion about what and where these often unknown spaces are, how they are preserved and adapted for continued use, and which as-yet-unprotected interiors should be prioritized for future designation. The exhibition will represent the first effort to highlight the unique significance of interiors as part of the built environment since 1979, when the American Society of Interior Designers launched a Significant Interiors Survey under the leadership of then-Landmarks Preservation Commissioner R. Michael Brown, FASID. 

The Asian American Arts Alliance will be among those organizations bringing a slightly different perspective to the commemorative projects of the NYC Landmarks50 Alliance. As an arts service organization that supports individual artists and small arts groups in all disciplines in the five boroughs, the Alliance plans to highlight the vibrant cultural contributions that Asian Americans have made—and continue to make—in New York City. To begin, 31 of their members—at least one for every year of the organization’s existence—will be featured on the Alliance website in a “Proust Questionnaire,” showcasing their work and their perspectives in brief responses to such questions as, “Who are your heroes in real life?” and “What is your idea of perfect happiness?” A final question will challenge artists to reflect on the City’s built environment, and which structures and physical spaces particularly resonate with their experiences as artists and as people of color in New York.

A wide variety of projects are currently in the planning phases, and the NYC Landmarks50 Alliance welcomes innovative ideas from individuals and organizations throughout the five boroughs. To get involved, share ideas, and volunteer your time, please email [email protected].

Above: Mayor Robert F. Wagner signing the New York City Landmarks Law on April 19, 1965; Courtesy of Margot Gayle