State Rules South of Union Square Eligible for State and National Registers of Historic Places, while City Allows Demolition of Historic Site to Proceed
New York State has determined that Village Preservation’s proposed South of Union Square Historic District is eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places, saying: “The district and its buildings played a critical role in the African American and LGBTQ civil rights movements, women’s suffrage and women’s rights movements, the labor movement, the New York School of writers and artists, and in the publishing industry in New York City. It is also significant … for its collection of residential and commercial buildings from the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth century … by some of America’s greatest architects, including Henry J. Hardenbergh, Emery Roth, Griffith Thomas, Napoleon LeBrun, Harvey Wiley Corbett, David and John Jardine, George B. Post, Carrere and Hastings, John Kellum, and Charles Rentz, and James Renwick Jr.,” reflecting research submitted by Village Preservation. See the map here and read the determination here.
This is a significant recognition for our efforts to preserve and protect the area South of Union Square, and puts a review process in place for any state or federal actions undertaken in the area or use of state or federal funds that might impact historic resources. It does not, however, offer what only New York City landmarking can: protection from demolitions and design review of new construction, which Mayor de Blasio has refused to approve and Councilmember Carlina Rivera, whose district covers most of the area, has failed to support. Even as the State has issued this recognition, plans are moving ahead for demolition and new construction at 64-66 University Place, an architecturally undistinguished but historically significant building about which Village Preservation has performed considerable research — read coverage here, here, here, here, and here.