As part of NYCLandmarks50, the celebration of this year’s 50th Anniversary of the NYC Landmarks Law, we are taking a look at some of the many and varied individual landmarks in our neighborhood.
The Police Athletic League Building at 34 1/2 East 12th Street between University Place and Broaday was built in 1855 for the New York City Board of Education and deisgnated a landmark in 1998. According to the LPC designation report, “the structure was built on an empty lot on a block populated with private homes and horse stables.”, which makes it the oldest building on this block by almost 50 years. It has not undergone significant changes to its appearance since it was built, “designed in the Anglo-Italianate style by architect Thomas R. Jackson.”
The building first served as Grammer School 47, an all girls school. The designation report also notes it “was one of the first New York City schools built exclusively for the education of girls at a time when the city was trying to expand learning opportunities for young women.”
Grammar School 47 was renamed the 12th Street Advance School for Girls in 1856. In 1897 the name was changed to Girls High School. In 1900 the school was renamed for Lydia Wadleigh, a teacher at Grammer School 47 and founder of the 12th Street Advance School for Girls. In 1902 Wadleigh High School moved to a new building that sat between 114th and 115th Street, where it exists today as the Wadleigh Secondary School for the Performing and Visual Arts. A new school opened in the building in 1902, Girls’ Technical High School, which was renamed Washington Irving High School in 1906 and moved out of 34 1/2 East 12th Street into its current building on Irving Place in 1913.
The building then served as Board of Education administrative offices until 1958 when it was transferred to the Police Department’s Juvenile Aid Bureau and the Police Athletic League, which continues to use the building for administrative purposes. The Police Athletic League “supports and inspires New York City youth to realize their full individual potential as productive members of society” and serves 40,000 NYC youth per year through after school programs, summer camps, athletic leagues, employment programs, and other support programs.
GVSHP is trying to help preserve the scale and character of the University Place/Broadway corridors, within which the PAL building lies, and within which it, along with Grace Church, is the only building which enjoys landmark protections. The entire area has outdated zoning, which allows terribly out-of-scale development, including the planned nearly 300 ft. tall tower just around the corner at 12th Street and University Place. Find out more here, and if you want to help preserve this area, click here.