Landmarks Hearing On 70 Fifth Avenue in Proposed South of Union Square Historic District Tomorrow at 10am

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will hold its public hearing tomorrow at approximately 10am (join at 9:45am to be safe) on the proposed landmark designation of 70 Fifth Avenue, another building in Village Preservation’s proposed South of Union Square Historic District. We urge you to attend and testify in support of designation, as well as to urge the Commission to consider the rest of the proposed South of Union Square Historic District, which contains many more buildings with similar architectural and historic significance.

70 Fifth Avenue (1912, SW corner of 13th Street) is an extraordinarily significant building whose history Village Preservation has been highlighting in our arguments to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for protecting the area south of Union Square. It was the headquarters of the NAACP, the country’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, and W.E.B. DuBois’ The Crisis magazine, the nation’s first African American magazine, a vital voice of the civil rights movement for over a century, and a critical launching pad for the Harlem Renaissance. The building was also home to a vast array of human rights, civil liberties, peace, labor, and progressive organizations, many founded here, as well as some of our nation’s most important publishers. Landmark designation is essential to honor and protect this history, and also to ensure this building is never demolished — zoning for this and adjacent sites, uniquely for our neighborhood, would allow construction of a “supertall” structure here, which would tower over all of downtown.

However, the entire area south of Union Square contains many other tremendously important sites connected to African American, civil rights and social justice, labor, women’s, LGBTQ, publishing, and artistic and literary history, many of which are currently threatened. It’s critical that we also call upon the LPC to act to protect them as well.

March 22, 2021