Events & News

Through the Legal Lens: Lawyers Who Shaped NYC’s Landmarks Law Explore its Past, Present & Future

November 9, 2017
6:30 pm
The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York

In 1965, New York City’s Landmarks Law was enacted to protect the city’s architectural, historical, and cultural sites. Over 50 years later, having sustained many legal challenges, the law is recognized as being of national significance but can it be improved to ensure its successful future? This panel discussion will explore the history and future of New York City’s Landmarks Law through the perspectives of the lawyers who have shaped, defended, and strengthened this significant piece of legislation. 

The New York Preservation Archive Project has recorded oral histories with each of the evening’s panelists, as well as others, in an effort to capture the legal history of New York City’s preservation movement. This panel is an opportunity for these legal figures to share their unique perspective on this history directly with preservationists who rely on the Landmarks Law in their work. The panel will be moderated by William J. Cook, Archive Project board member and Associate General Counsel at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who is conducting these legal oral histories. The recordings are available online here

About the evening’s panelists:

Leonard Koerner is the former Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel and Chief of the Appeals Division of the Law Department of the City of New York, who notably argued for the city in Penn Central Transportation Co. v. The City of New York (1978)

Virginia Waters, the former Assistant Corporation Counsel of the Law Department of the City of New York, was involved with 25 landmark cases including the 1989 case that upheld the preservation of 22 theaters in the Theater District

Michael Gruen, a founding member of the Historic Districts Council and a legal advisor for the Municipal Art Society, worked on many landmark cases throughout his career and helped draft the 1973 amendments to the Landmarks Law

This event is co-sponsored by the New York Preservation Archive Project, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and the Historic Districts Council.

Thank you to the American Society for Legal History for making this program possible.

The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York
20 West 44th Street
New York, NY, 10036
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Above: Image: New York Supreme Court Building in New York City; Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons