Events & News

The 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Landmarks Law Continues!

The 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Landmarks Law Continues!

October 12, 2014
Article from the Fall 2014 Newsletter

The anniversary year is almost upon us! To commemorate 50 years since the passage of New York City’s Landmarks Law, the NYC Landmarks50 Alliance has been working to broaden the appreciation of New York City’s landmarks through a series of programs held throughout the five boroughs. Each of the nearly 140 members of the Alliance, ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Merchant’s House Museum, is planning a special project for the upcoming anniversary. Please add these dates to your calendar–we hope to see you there!

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Landmarks Law, the American-Scottish Foundation is planning a lecture series that will culminate in a spring 2015 exhibition on the contributions of Scottish architects and philanthropists to the building of New York City. The lecture series commenced on October 15th at the University Club where Manhattan Borough President Michael Miscione and John Kinnear, architect, historian, and president of American Friends of the Georgian Group, spoke on Charles Follen McKim, William Rutherford Mead, and Stanford White, of the legendary architectural firm McKim, Mead & White. Please visit www.americanscottishfoundation.com for details on future lectures in the series.  

The Pratt Institute Historic Preservation program will also be sponsoring a speaker series to celebrate the anniversary, beginning this fall and running through spring 2015. The series will include co-sponsored events hosted in the School of Architecture on Pratt’s Brooklyn Campus. Each lecture will highlight New York City landmarks from a different perspective and feature topics ranging from sustainability, resiliency, and community to zoning, development, and place-making. Visit the Pratt Institute website at www.pratt.edu for more information.

Another exciting NYC Landmarks50 Alliance project is being planned by chashama, an organization that partners with real estate professionals to repurpose vacant, unused properties into subsidized studios, galleries, event and performance venues. By making use of real estate-in-transition, chashama brings culture, new audiences, and economic activity to surrounding areas, and increased foot traffic to local businesses. For the 50th anniversary celebrations, chashama is developing a public service announcement and marquee campaign that will run in Times Square from April 1-30, 2015. The arts organization is also proposing to activate its gallery spaces for the anniversary, and to have chashama studio artists create commemorative works to celebrate this milestone.

The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors has planned the Bowery Signage Project, in which approximately 25 visually-striking posters will be strategically placed in windows along the Bowery for the duration of one year, ending in December 2015. Historic images and text will highlight remarkable people, events, buildings, and achievements associated with particular addresses along the famed thoroughfare. Barcodes on posters will link smart phone users to an enhanced website for additional history, images, video and audio, as well as information about the efforts of community activists to preserve the neighborhood. By creating eye-catching posters celebrating the Bowery’s unique historical and cultural significance, the Bowery Signage Project will raise consciousness about the street’s importance and broaden support for the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors’ six-year effort to preserve, rezone, and protect the unique working class history and diverse community that the Bowery represents.

City University of New York (CUNY) is the largest urban university system in the country, with 24 campuses and a rich collection of important, architecturally-distinctive landmark buildings. These structures reflect and symbolize New York City’s magnificent architectural, educational, political, and social history, and were designed by some of our nation’s greatest architects. To honor the NYC Landmarks50 Alliance anniversary celebration, CUNY TV—the university’s state-of-the-art television station—will produce a documentary featuring five of these evocative landmarks: Stanford White’s famous colonnaded Hall of Fame and late masterpiece Gould Memorial Library, on what had once been the northern campus of NYU, now both part of Bronx Community College (the first community college campus to be designated a National Historic Landmark); George B. Post’s iconic North Campus of City College; Charles A. Platt’s Roosevelt House; Trowbridge & Livingston’s CUNY Graduate Center, originally the B. Altman & Co. Department Store; and the jazz genius Louis Armstrong’s Queens home, also a National Historic Landmark. Prominent New Yorkers, architects, and historians will offer insight and commentary throughout the documentary. The documentary will be televised beginning Sunday, April 19, 2015, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of New York City’s historic Landmarks Law by Mayor Robert F. Wagner. It will then be repeated five times that week, and will be available at www.cuny.tv. CUNY TV is seen in the tri-state area on broadcast Channel 25.3, and on cable in the five boroughs of New York City on Channel 75 (Time Warner and Optimum Brooklyn), Channel 77 (RCN) and Channel 30 (Verizon FiOS).

Although Mother Nature will decide the date, in spring 2015 the Park Avenue Malls will bloom with special seasonal plantings to celebrate both the 50th anniversary of the Landmarks Law and the 35th anniversary of The Fund for Park Avenue. Through its two privately-supported beautification programs—the Park Avenue Malls Planting Project and the Park Avenue Tree Lighting—The Fund for Park Avenue plants, lights, and maintains the trees and flowers on the Park Avenue Malls. The Fund is currently sourcing plantings that will symbolize both of these important anniversaries.  

The Museum of the City of New York‘s major exhibition Saving Place: Fifty Years of New York City Landmarks is set to open on April 20, 2015. Curators Donald Albrecht, Andrew Dolkart, and Seri Worden have canvassed New York City archives, libraries, and architects’ offices (including the Archive Project!) to select compelling material that traces the story of the Landmarks Law and its impact on the City. The exhibition will be designed by the award-winning architectural firm Cooper Joseph Studio, and will feature many never-before-exhibited historic documents, drawings, and architectural models. Internationally-acclaimed photographer Iwan Baan was also commissioned to create images of historic landmarks and districts, illustrating the dynamic synthesis of old and new that characterizes New York City 50 years after the passage of the law. In addition to being prominently displayed in the exhibition, Baan’s photos will be presented as a special portfolio in a companion book to be co-published by the City Museum and the Monacelli Press. The book will be ready for distribution in April 2015 and it will include essays by architects Robert A.M. Stern and Françoise Bollack, and noted preservationists such as Claudette Brady, Adele Chatfield-Taylor, and Archive Project founder and chair Anthony C. Wood.

Lastly, please mark your calendars for the New York School of Interior Design‘s exhibition on New York City’s designated landmark interiors, which will run from March 6 to April 24, 2015. An opening reception will be held on March 5th, and additional public programming is in the works. With leading American architect Hugh Hardy as its guest curator, the show will feature the City’s 114 landmark interiors 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. In association with this exhibition, a book on New York’s interior landmarks is to be published by Monacelli Press, co-authored by Judith Gura, author, professor, and director of the design history program at NYSID, and Kate Wood, adjunct assistant professor at Columbia University.

With such a wide array of projects being planned, there will be countless ways to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Landmarks Law over the next year!  The NYC Landmarks50 Alliance continues to welcome innovative ideas from individuals and organizations throughout the five boroughs to help make this milestone event even more extraordinary. To get involved, share ideas, and volunteer your time, please email [email protected]

Above: Gould Memorial Library, c. 1904; Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division [LC-DIG-det-4a11791]