#SouthOfUnionSquare’s Status as Crucial Film History Hub Powers Landmarks Push

80 Fifth Avenue, today (left) and in 1942 (center), via MCNY Digital Collections

Did you know that at the beginning of the 20th century, the neighborhood South of Union Square was THE center of the film industry in America, which Thomas Edison controlled with a vise-like grip? Much about the American film industry was forged in those early days, and continues to shape this powerful medium today. And even after its center shifted to Hollywood, throughout the 20th century the movie business was profoundly shaped and influenced by the neighborhood #SouthOfUnionSquare, where figures like Andy Warhol, Jonas Mekas, and John Waters, and an incredible confluence of avant-garde, alternative, and art house filmmakers and venues could be found. 

As we approach Oscars Sunday, Village Preservation has submitted research to the Landmarks Preservation Commission documenting the extraordinarily impactful role this neighborhood has played in shaping the film industry, and arguing that it is yet another reason South of Union Square needs and deserves landmark protections from the City. Mayor Adams, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera are yet to support landmark designation for this area.


March 7, 2023