This week marks the 180th anniversary of the incorporation of New York University, which was chartered in April 1831 as the City University of New York. And it seems the University was a bit pickier with its choice of architects in those early days. Feast your eyes on their spectacular Gothic Revival main building, which was constructed in 1833-36 by architects Town, Davis & Dakin and graced the east side of Washington Square when the Greek and Gothic Revival styles flourished all around the park. Alas, the building came down in 1894 and was replaced shortly thereafter with the building known as the Silver Center, which sits today at the park’s northeast corner.
Indeed, over the course of the last 180 years the core campus area has undergone some pretty overwhelming changes. But they’re nothing compared to what’s about to happen. NYU is seeking to build 2.4 million square feet of space in Washington Square Village and the neighboring Silver Towers complex as part of its 20-year expansion plan, and things are about to get wild.
But wait! This week brings more exciting news: The State Historic Preservation Office has ruled that the entire Washington Square Village complex, including its gardens, qualify for the State and National Register of Historic Places. And this could mean very good things for preservationists. NYU has so far been seeking to build two giant curving towers in the middle of the Washington Square Village complex, but this ruling may impact those plans, as the University is planning to use State Dormitory Authority funds for these developments. Now that Washington Square Village is eligible for the State and National Register of Historic Places, no state or federal money can be spent on any construction or demolition there unless it is reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Office.