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Demolitions in Our Historic Image Archive: Gone, But Not Forgotten

Village Preservation is always working hard to document, celebrate, and protect the historic character of our neighborhoods, including the great buildings that make Greenwich Village, NoHo and East Village such wonderful places to live, work and shop.  Of course, we’re not always able to save every historic building from demolition, and some disappeared long before we came into existence in 1980.  But even those that are long gone, we are often at least possessors of a record of their existence, and it’s important to remember them as well.  So today we thought we’d take a look at our historic image archive to see some of the dearly departed buildings whose memory at least we have been able to preserve.

Demolition of Washington Square South between MacDougal Street and Sullivan Street to make way for the NYU Vanderbilt Hall Law School. In the upper left you can also see the old Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments, which was later demolished by NYU in 2008.  Donated by the NY Bound Bookshop (Judith Stonehill and Barbara Cohen, owners) in January 1996. Date 1950 Jan.

High Line Demolition- looking west on Perry Street Subject. The crane and wrecking ball is getting into position in the middle of the intersection of Perry and Washington Streets. The building west of the trestle on the right was the headquarters of the Spanish-language newspaper “La Prensa.” Its sign appears on the corner of the building. Images were taken by Peter H. Fritsch in 1962 and donated by Nick Fritsch.



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Women’s House of Detention at the intersection of Greenwich and Sixth Avenue. At this time, the prison had been closed for two years and was slated for demolition, which was completed the following year.  Date August 17, 1973 Rights © Estate of Fred W. McDarrah. Our special thanks to the Estate of Fred W. McDarrah for their support of Village Preservation. Collection Fred W. McDarrah: Iconic Images of the Village & East Village, Part 2


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St. Ann’s Church, 110-120 East 12th Street. Demolished 2005. The church tower was built in 1847 and the nave in 1870 to the designs of renowned architect Napoleon LeBrun. At the time of demolition in 2005 to make way for NYU’s Founder’s Hall, it was one of the only structures in all of New York City to have served what had been the city’s three main religions – it was originally a Protestant Church, later became the first home of Temple Beth El synagogue, and served as an Armenian National Shrine for the Roman Catholic Church. The demolished rectory (blue brick building) dated to the 1840’s. Date May 2005


Tunnel Garage, 55 Thompson Street demolished 2006. The Tunnel Garage was built in 1922 during the early automobile age, ushering in the engineering marvel of its time, the Holland Tunnel. Village Preservation sought landmark designation for the building, but the City refused, and it was demolished in 2006.


This image, taken in 1963, shows Pennsylvania Station undergoing demolition, as seen from Seventh Avenue and 32 Street. The image was taken by Carole Teller, and is part of our Carole Teller’s Changing New York Collection.


The New York Tribune Building at Nassau & Spruce Streets, being demolished in 1966 for 1 Pace Plaza. Built in 1875, it was 260 feet tall and designed by renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt.  It was the 2nd tallest building in New York when constructed, and one of the tallest at the time to ever be demolished.  The image was taken by Carole Teller, and is part of our Carole Teller’s Changing New York Collection.

To give you a sense of the breadth of our collection, this is just a fraction of the buildings in there that have been demolished or are shown undergoing demolition.  There are hundreds more fascinating historic images taken over many decades in our archive here.  It is searchable by keyword, so go and check it out and have fun.  And some of the images are for sale, and make a great holiday gift!

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