Speaker Johnson, Scholars, and Press Support South of Union Square Civil Rights Landmarking Effort, But City and Rivera Still Resist

Our efforts to honor and preserve the remarkable history of the endangered and unprotected area of Greenwich Village and the East Village south of Union Square, especially its extraordinary civil rights history, has gained significant new support. Speaker Corey Johnson, who represents the area of our proposed historic district west of Fifth Avenue, urged the Landmarks Preservation Commission to move ahead with landmark designation of the buildings in his district, while Fordham University’s Amy Aronson joined a long and growing list of scholars, civil rights groups, writers, and government officials who have come out in support of our landmarking proposal. Additionally, the effort has attracted coverage from NY1 News, Gay City NewsAMNYThe Root, and the Village Sun.

Recent attention has focused on multiple sites within our proposed historic district of extraordinary significance to the African American and LGBTQ civil rights movement, as well as the Women’s Suffrage and women’s rights movements.  This includes the historic former headquarters of the nation’s oldest and largest African American civil rights organization and the first national LGBTQ civil rights organization, both of which made remarkable advances and led historic campaigns still being waged today; the headquarters of the New York organization which led the fight for women’s suffrage locally in the late 19thcentury – a battle not won until the adoption of the 19thamendment 100 years ago this summer; the headquarters of the publisher behind The Feminine Mystique, the book widely credited with launching second-wave feminism; and the recording studio where the color barrier in recorded music was finally broken and where the careers of iconic African American, female, and LGBTQ artists like Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, and Fletcher “Smack” Henderson were launched, resurrected, or reached new heights.  Read more here.

(l. to r.) 80 Fifth Ave., 17 East 13th Street, 70 Fifth Ave., 10 East 14th Street, and 55 Fifth Ave., where remarkable advances in the African American and LGBTQ civil rights movements and the women’s rights and suffrage movements took place.

In spite of this extraordinary history and support, Mayor de Blasio, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and Councilmember Carlina Rivera (who represents about 90% of the proposed district, east of Fifth Avenue) have so far refused to support landmark designation.

July 14, 2020