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One More Reason to Check Out Our Landmarks Applications Webpage: Cool Old Pictures

A while ago I wrote about a wonderful resource on the GVSHP website, the GVSHP Landmarks Application webpage. This page contains all upcoming, pending and closed applications for alterations, demolitions, and new construction on landmarked sites in our neighborhoods (Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo).  It also lets you know how you can weigh in on the decision of whether or not to approve these applications, or find out more about them.  Keeping track of these incredibly important applications which have such an impact upon our neighborhoods is reason enough to view this page on a regular basis.

But there is another, more fun reason.

1926 Photo of 1 Perry Street from the Landmark application for that address.

Most of the applications include historic pictures of the buildings and streetscapes which are the subject of the applications.  These are often rarely seen or hard to find images, which are not only great fun to look at, but which can provide important information in assessing the appropriateness of any proposed changes to our landmarks. Further, some of these photos aren’t available online, and acquiring them requires a trip the NYC Municipal Archives or the Landmarks Preservation Commission (not to mention a Freedom of Information Law request, which can take weeks for a response).  But by posting these applications on our website, we save you the trouble!

Here is just a sampling of some of the interesting historic photos within the applications currently on our Landmarks Application webpage for you to peruse:

Photos of 15 & 17 King Street from an application for 17 King Street, circa 1940.

The photos above are from a recent application for 17 King Street, taken circa 1940. Today, the rears of these Federal style row houses, which are located in the Charlton-King-Van Dam historic district, are still visible from Sixth Avenue and, as seen in the historic and current photos, largely unchanged.

17 King Street rear. existing (left) and proposed (right)
17 King Street, from Sixth Avenue, existing (left) and proposed (right)

A very different application for 159 Bleecker Street calls for alterations to the storefront. This building, located in the South Village Historic District and the former home of the Circle in the Square Theater, has been through a number of changes over the years and has been a subject of particular attention (and frustration) by GVSHP.  The addition of several floors to the building was completed prior to the designation of the district. The proposed windows at the storefront are intended to recall the windows which were visible in the 1940 photograph.

159 Bleecker Street, 1940 photo (left) and photo from 1976 (right)
159 Bleecker Street today
159 Bleecker, rendition of proposed changes

84 Second Avenue has seen a lot of change over the course of its very long existence, as has the surrounding East Village neighborhood. Built circa 1841, it started as a Greek Revival row house when this stretch of Second Avenue was a very fashionable place to live. The application calls for the restoration of the facade and rear additions. But the historic photos found within the application do an incredible job of documenting the changes to the building over the years, as well as the changes to the neighborhood.

84 Second Avenue from 1886 to the 1980’s

59 Blecker Street in the NoHo Historic District, built in 1929, has also seen a number of changes over the years. Originally, it housed a gas station and a liquor store (a questionable combination at best). In spite of the changes to the building and the neighborhood, the terra cotta detail at the parapet remains intact and the proposal for this structure included the restoration of that feature.

59 Bleecker Street c. 1940 (left) and 1931 site survey (right)
1930’s street views of Lafayette Street from the application for 59 Bleecker Street

The images found in the application provide an irreplaceable picture of how the neighborhood formerly looked, and evolved over the years.

These applications not only allow us (and by sharing with the public, you) to evaluate and respond to these proposed changes in our neighborhoods — some good, some bad, some somewhere in between.  But in any case, they can provide a pretty amazing (and fun) visual history lesson about our neighborhoods as well.

Check out all the applications on our Landmarks Applications webpage here, and sign up to receive notifications about new such applications being posted by subscribing to the RSS feed, signing up for email notifications (just enter “all” if you want to be notified of all applications), or by emailing info@gvshp.org with the message “Please add me to your email list.”

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