A New Beginning for West End Avenue

East, East Coast
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
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The Landmarks Preservation Commission is preparing to preserve a large swath of West End Avenue and the surrounding buildings. (Ed Yourdon/Flickr)

The West End Preservation Society could only save two of the buildings it had hoped for, but an entire neighborhood has been preserved in the process.

Back in 2007, a clutch of concerned citizens living on West End Avenue were dismayed to learn that two pairs of brownstones were bound for the wrecking ball, to be replaced by the sliver buildings much in vogue in Manhattan’s narrow upper reaches over the past decade. The houses at 732 and 734 West End Avenue are currently being demolished, but 508 and 510 West End Avenue survive, and likely will for some time thanks to the efforts of the society. The LPC is now preparing to finalize plans for a new, expansive historic district—lobbied for by the preservation group—running the length of West End Avenue from 70th Street to 109th Street. The result will be two-miles of almost uniterrupted pre-war grandeur.

734 and 732 West End Avenue, casualties that spurred a movement to landmark the entire throroughfare. (Courtesy Google Maps)

The commission recently sent out letters to affected property owners notifying them of a September 15 informational meeting at P.S. 75 (located in the district-to-be at 735 West End Avenue). Such meetings are typically a precursor to “calendaring” a project, when it officially enters public review, a step that is now expected by October or November. Commission spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon said a final map of the proposed district will be released at next month’s meeting, and it will include 745 new buildings—large by most historic district standards, though the Upper West Side already boasts some 2,035 landmarked buildings.

A map showing UWS historic districts. The commission will stitch together the five along West End Avenue into one super district. CLICK TO ZOOM (Courtesy Landmarks West)

Technically, the commission will not be creating one new district but expanding five that line West End Avenue. Though the result will be one contiguous stretch of landmarks, de Bourbon said the idea was to group them in a way that would honor the individual character of each district, “its history and its rhythms.” By expanding the existing districts, the commission will also protect more buildings on the side streets, further what many consider one of the most pristine stretches of pre-war architecture in the city.

6 Responses to “A New Beginning for West End Avenue”

  1. Jane Z. says:

    How can we stop this? This landmarking thing is out of control. Pretty soon NYC will be one huge museum.

    STOP NEW LANDMARKING AND TIME TO START REVERSING CURRENT LANDMARKING DESIGNATIONS!

  2. david b says:

    Jane, Why stop? So rich landlords can displace old ladies? So lovely historic neighborhoods can be homogenized? My sympathies are with the residents not the landlords.

  3. Steve Terry says:

    Jane, I respectfully disagree. There are a *lot* of residents of he Upper West Side who want this designation. I am one of them. It’s about light, air, and architectural character.

    Where do you live? If it isn’t the Upper West Side, I would respectfully ask you to butt out!

    Plus, I would actually like to live in a museum!

  4. Howard Charles Yourow says:

    G_D BLESS WEPS & THE LPC !

    GO WEA GO !

  5. Peter says:

    The Columbus Square development would not have been possible had Park West Village been designated a landmark. As a long term resident of the UWS, north of 86th Street, I’d like to personally thank those developers for their courage to invest in the area in such a transformative way. Do I like shopping at Whole Foods Market? Ah, yes, very much.

  6. Alex says:

    Peter, that is not necessarily true. Buildings within historic districts are still allowed to be demolished and redeveloped. The difference is that the proposals are subject to review and approval by the LPC.

    It’s really unfortunate how much disinformation has been promulgated by REBNY.

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