New Research in South of Union Square Landmarking Effort Reveals Incredible History Behind Unprotected 160 Year Old Fifth Avenue House

You’ve probably passed by 59 Fifth Avenue between 12thand 13thStreets a million times, with no idea of the incredible history behind this 1853 house, located in an area of our neighborhood lacking in landmark protections.  But as our ongoing research aimed at securing landmark protections for the area reveals, it was built by what was once one of the richest men in America, who helped found what is now New York Presbyterian Hospital and the New York Public Library.  And the three generations of men and women who owned or lived in the house helped found some of the greatest institutions in New York, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium, the New York Historical Society, the Hospital for Special Surgery, the Museum of Natural History, and the Citizen’s Budget Commission; they fought to end slavery in the United States, introduced Florence Nightingale’s principles to nursing in America, and helped bring down Tammany Hall. They also donated some of the most incredible artworks to public institutions in America, including works by Gaugin, Renoir, and Monet.

Like so much in the area of Greenwich Village and the East Village south of Union Square, this rich history goes largely unrecognized and unprotected, and could be lost at any time.  The city’s approval of the upzoning for the nearby 14th Street Tech Hub, racing towards completion, has only increased pressure on this area, where many historic buildings have been lost in recent years.  Join us in calling for landmark designation to protect this area:

July 29, 2020