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The Drive to Protect the Ladies’ Mile District

The Drive to Protect the Ladies’ Mile District was created to preserve and protect what became the Ladies’ Mile Historic District.

People: Woody Allen, Christabel Gough, Margaret Moore, Truman Moore, Joseph Papp, Jack Taylor, Anthony C. Wood, Diana Vreeland
Organizations: Chelsea Historical Association, the Committee to Save the City, Historic Districts Council, the Junior League of the City of New York, Union Square Community Coalition, the Society for the Architecture of the City, the Victorian Society in America
Places: Union Square
Above: 881-87 Broadway - Arnold Constable Building; Courtesy of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission

The Drive to Protect the Ladies’ Mile District was created to preserve and protect what became the Ladies’ Mile Historic District.

1983: Margaret and Truman Moore compose a 64-page publication and slide show containing photographs of and essays on the Ladies' Mile area

1989: The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designates the Ladies' Mile District as an historic district

The Drive to Protect the Ladies' Mile District was organized by copy-editor Jack Taylor with photographer Truman Moore and his wife, preservationist Margaret Moore. This group served as an umbrella group for various organizations, and was primarily concerned with the growing dereliction of the Midtown Manhattan area. It had once served as a thriving center for retail commerce and publishing with monumental Beaux-Arts buildings and early forms of skyscrapers. When stores and offices began to move uptown after World War I, the area suffered from the impinging vacancy.

In the mid-1970s and early 1980s, photographer Truman Moore set up a studio in the area because of its lower rents. He and his wife took notice of the dilapidation of the once magnificent buildings that adorned Sixth Avenue, Fifth Avenue, and Broadway. They began to write a book entitled End of the Road for Ladies' Mile? that contained photographs of the buildings.1 Due to the building boom and revitalization taking place in Union Square in the early 1980s, preservationists launched campaigns to designate buildings as New York City Landmarks in order to protect them from future development.2 Margaret and Truman Moore, along with Anthony C. Wood and Christabel Gough, formed The Drive to Protect the Ladies' Mile District to help garner support from the public for its designation. Jack Taylor soon joined the group and continues to serve as its president. They distributed End of the Road for Ladies' Mile?, engaged local celebrities, and instituted walking tours.3 Their efforts paid off when the district was officially designated in 1989.

The Drive to Protect the Ladies' Mile District was originally formed to petition the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate Ladies' Mile as an historic district. In 1983, Margaret and Truman Moore composed a 64-page publication and slide show containing photographs of and essays on the Ladies' Mile area.4 Margaret and Truman Moore, along with Anthony C. Wood and Christabel Gough, formed The Drive to Protect the Ladies' Mile District in order to protect the area's buildings from potential destruction. Jack Taylor joined in 1984 and continues to serve as its president.5

The Drive to Protect the Ladies' Mile District initially served as an umbrella organization for the Union Square Community Coalition, Chelsea Historical Association, the Society for the Architecture of the City, the Committee to Save the City, the Victorian Society in America, the Junior League of the City of New York, and the Historic Districts Council.6 Battling the real estate developers in the area, the organization launched a series of advocacy campaigns to designate the Ladies' Mile area as a New York City historic district. The organization raised public awareness by providing walking tours and exhibitions illustrating the rich history of this urban retail center to the public. They also garnered support from key celebrities including Joseph Papp, Diana Vreeland, and Woody Allen.7 The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Ladies' Mile Historic District in 1989.8

  1. 
Nadine Brozan, “Panel Gives Ladies’ Mile Historic District Status,” The New York Times, 3 May 1999.
  2. 
”Loving Ladies’ Mile,” The New York Times, 8 September 1986.
  3. 
Karen Mathiasen, Interview with Jack Taylor, 13 October 2007.
  4. 
Nadine Brozan, “Panel Gives Ladies’ Mile Historic District Status,” The New York Times, 3 May 1999.
  5. 
Karen Mathiasen, Interview with Jack Taylor, 13 October 2007.
  6. 
”Loving Ladies’ Mile,” The New York Times, 8 September 1986.
  7. 
Karen Mathiasen, Interview with Jack Taylor, 13 October 2007.
  8. “Ladies Mile District Wins Landmark Status,” The New York Times, 7 May 1989.