Wednesday, October 4

Landmark East Harlem Statement on Landmarks Preservation Commission Calendaring of Three East Harlem Buildings


Benjamin Franklin High School (now the Manhattan School for Science and Math)NOVEMBER 21 2017
CONTACT: Christopher Cirillo: [email protected]; (212) 410-3153, ext. 117
Landmark East Harlem was formed to give the community of East Harlem an ongoing voice in how our neighborhood is developed and to support development that preserves the unique cultural and historical significance of the neighborhood. Our mission is also to protect buildings; districts of architectural, historical, and cultural significance; and outdoor artworks in East Harlem using local landmark designation, State and National Register Listing, and various other preservation tools and incentives.
Landmark East Harlem members were present at the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on November 14, 2017, at which the Commission voted to calendar three East Harlem buildings:
LP-2596 260
Pleasant Avenue-aka 500-528 East 116th Street – Benjamin Franklin High School (now The Manhattan School for Science and Math, pictured above) Manhattan – Block 1713 – Lot 1 CD: 11
A 1942 Georgian Revival School, built to house an experimental community-centered high school started by the pioneering educator and sociologist Leonard Covello, that is representative of the social and political engagement of East Harlem in the 20th century.
207-215 East 119th Street – Richard Webber Harlem Packing House Manhattan – Block 1784 – Lot 5 in part CD: 11
A six-story Romanesque-Revival former meat market building, designed by Bartholomew & John P. Walther and built in 1895 for the Richard Webber Harlem Packing Company.
Richard Webber Harlem Packing House
215 East 99th Street – Public School 109 (now El Barrio’s Artspace P.S. 109) Manhattan – Block 1649 – Lot 9 CD: 11
A Collegiate Gothic style former Public School building designed by Charles B.J. Snyder, constructed in 1899 and rehabilitated in 2015 as an affordable housing complex for local artists.
Public School 109 (now El Barrio’s Artspace PS 109)
Landmark East Harlem applauds these actions by the Landmarks Preservation Commission as a good start. However, three buildings is a perilously low number in a neighborhood as large and as previously ignored by the Landmarks Preservation Commission as East Harlem.
On March 14, 2017, Landmark East Harlem sent a list of 22 properties that it had identified as worthy of consideration by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The East Harlem Neighborhood Plan Steering Committee identified a dozen culturally significant properties and three architecturally significant districts as worthy of consideration. The Department of City Planning’s East Harlem Rezoning Environmental Impact Statement identified three additional properties as Landmarks Preservation Commission eligible and more than 30 buildings as eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
The general lack of landmark designation north of 110th Street in Manhattan is at play here: Why do Carnegie Hill, the Upper East Side, and Park Avenue—not to mention the Upper West Side and Greenwich Village—have so many more individual landmarks than East Harlem? Why does East Harlem have zero historic districts when it has several districts that are at least as eligible as the recently designated Thompson Sullivan Historic District downtown?
East Harlem is proud of its working class and immigrant history. From the 1930s to the 1950s, construction of more public housing in that neighborhood than anywhere else in New York City dramatically altered the physical landscape and social dynamic. Yet the neighborhood faces an equally challenging time as the combined forces of rezoning, proximity to the waterfront, and future development of the Second Avenue Subway extension again threaten socioeconomic displacement and the loss of its historical identity. Only ambitious preservation efforts will ensure that the neighborhood’s history is acknowledged and that future development respects local architecture and culture.

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