Greenwich Village Historic District Past Campaign Updates

April Is Greenwich Village Historic District Month!

April is when we celebrate the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District, landmarked in April 1969, and protecting more than 2,200 buildings and helping to preserve one of the most historically significant urban neighborhoods in the world. Village Preservation was founded in 1980 to help protect the Greenwich Village Historic District (we’ve since expanded our mission to include all of Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo), and the district — still one of NYC’s oldest and largest — remains near and dear to our heart and mission.

We’re celebrating all month long with posts on our blog that celebrate the neighborhood’s special history and programs that focus on the Greenwich Village Historic District’s unique places and architecture.

Want to learn more about the Greenwich Village Historic District? Check out our map with dozens of tours containing more than 1,000 historically significant sites and “then and now” photos of the district from when it was designated and today. Or go to our Greenwich Village Historic District advocacy page to learn more about the ongoing work we are doing to preserve and protect this incredibly special place. 

April 15, 2024

Application for Changes to Double-Landmarked Iconic 131 and 131½ Charles Street Returns for Fourth Time on Tuesday

A new application to significantly alter and dig below the iconic landmarked house (1834) and backhouse at 131 and 131½ Charles Street will come before the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) next Tuesday. We have serious concerns about this plan for one of NYC’s earliest landmarks and the former home of renowned photographer Diane Arbus. Read our comments submitted to the LPC here.

This is the fourth iteration of this plan to alter this iconic pair of buildings between Washington and Greenwich Streets. No. 131 Charles is considered one of the most completely intact examples of a Federal-style (1790-1835) house — the very first uniquely American architectural style that emerged following the country’s independence. Nos. 131 and 131½ Charles are double-landmarked, also being located in the Greenwich Village Historic District Extension we fought for in 2006, as well as listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. WE HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN GETTING THE LPC TO REJECT PRIOR PLANS TO ALTER THESE BUILDINGS, BUT WE MUST CONTINUE TO PUSH BACK ON THIS LATEST ITERATION, WHICH WOULD COMPROMISE AND POTENTIALLY ENDANGER THIS RARE PIECE OF NYC HISTORY!

The public will only be allowed to submit written comments on this plan, and they must be received by 5 pm Friday to ensure they get to individual commissioners in advance of the Tuesday meeting (comments can be submitted for the record until noon on Monday).


March 1, 2024

City Fails to Protect Public Safety, Landmarks at 14-18 Gay Street/16-20 Christopher Streets

Hundreds joined us for a rally on Gay Street in November 2022 to protest illegal work at 14 Gay Street that led to the building’s demolition. We demanded reform to the City’s oversight system, which has only gotten worse. 

Village Preservation has been battling for years to get the City to take action to protect five fragile, jointly owned, 200-year-old houses at 14-18 Gay Street and 16-20 Christopher Street, and to hold the owner responsible for the conditions and damage done there. The houses (briefly owned by the City itself) have been in deteriorating conditions for years, and in late 2022 illegal work at 14 Gay Street (the former home of writer Ruth McKenna, which inspired and was where she wrote My Sister Eileen, which later became Wonderful Town) led to the building’s destruction and demolition. Village Preservation has demanded that the City reform its system of oversight which led to the destruction of these and so many other historic properties, and that the responsible parties be held to account and a message sent that such actions will be severely penalized and strongly disincentivized.

However, following a recent meeting with the NYC Department of Buildings and the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) arranged by Councilmember Erik Bottcher, we learned just the opposite was happening. The City agencies confirmed that there will be virtually no penalties for any responsible parties for the destruction of the landmarked 14 Gay Street; repairs to adjacent endangered sites at 16 and 18 Gay Street are at best advancing at a snail’s pace, with work in some cases not expected to begin before 2025; and at 18-20 Christopher Street, 200-year-old elements of the building may need to be removed and replaced, thus far without any proof of the necessity of doing so, as opposed to repairing the historic features. The LPC had also previously informed us that in spite of initial indications to the contrary, 14 Gay Street would not be rebuilt using the original materials from the building, because the agency had determined (without any substantiation made public) that the entire building except the original door and surround were “unsalvageable” (Village Preservation had demanded that the owner be required to rebuild 14 Gay using the original material from the house when it was required to be demolished due to structural instability from illegal work, as is common practice for landmarked structures). Read our letter to city officials HERE.

The failure yet again of City agencies to safeguard landmarked, historic buildings in our city, in spite of their hollow claim to have developed a “Vulnerable Buildings Plan,” is deeply troubling and disturbing. Worse, these City agencies are making it clear that owners and developers can destroy or allow dangerous deterioration of their properties with little or no penalty from the city to discourage such actions, encouraging landmarks to be destroyed, homes to be lost, and public safety to be put at risk.  


February 16, 2024

The End of Village Cigars

Like many of you, we were shocked to hear about the closure of longtime iconic neighborhood business Village Cigars, which has been located at 110 Seventh Avenue South (at Christopher Street) for nearly a hundred years. The Sheridan Square mainstay is connected to the history of the development of Greenwich Village streets, as well as linked to the beloved Hess Triangle located in front of the store.

Fortunately, the building housing Village Cigars as well as Hess Triangle are located within the Greenwich Village Historic District, and thus enjoy the landmark protections that go along with the designation. This does not, however, typically mean that the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), which regulates and oversees these sites, will necessarily require that signage from a no-longer extant business is maintained. More typically, when such signage is considered significant in some way, the LPC may require that if a new store wants to replace the signage to reflect the new name, the sign must emulate the style of the old sign.

We have, however, been encouraged to hear from the owner of the property that he intends to maintain all or most of the iconic signage, and seek a tenant for the space who will want to do so, viewing it as an asset. The owner has also stated that he will not rent to a cannabis shop, but has been in discussion with potential coffee shop tenants. Read more here, here, and here.

Read more about Village Preservation’s efforts to support local small businesses here

February 16, 2024

Village Independent Democrats Archive 1954-1969 Digitized and Released

We are proud to share with the public the first installment of the online archives of the Village Independent Democrats (VID), donated to Village Preservation in 2023. We have painstakingly digitized the trailblazing local political club’s archives from 1955 at its very beginnings through the 1960s (look for a second installment later this year!).

VID was a groundbreaking political club that changed the course of local and New York City history and politics. They took on and eventually dismantled the local Tammany Hall machine, launched the careers of figures like Ed Koch and Carol Greitzer, and campaigned locally for civil rights, historic preservation, removing cars from Washington Square, ending Robert Moses’ bulldozing plans, and much more.

Our digitized VID archive includes everything from press clippings to campaign literature, reports on civil rights, strategy sessions on fighting Robert Moses, and more. You’ll see figures from Eleanor Roosevelt to Robert Kennedy to Martin Luther King Jr. Learn how these local battles played out in real time with this extensive online archive containing a treasure trove of materials. 

This is one of many historic collections Village Preservation has digitized and made available to the public, including that of the West Village Committee (founded by Jane Jacobs) and the “Manhattan Promenade,” an early proposal to save and transform the High Line into a park, nearly a quarter century before that became a reality. 

January 31, 2024

Damaging Proposal for Alterations to and Excavations Under 131 and 131 1/2 Charles Street Rejected!

We are pleased to report that the revised proposal for inappropriate and potentially damaging alterations to, and excavation under, the landmarked 131 Charles Street (1834) and its 19th-century rear carriage house at 131 1/2 Charles Street, the longtime former home of photographer Diane Arbus, was not approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) on Tuesday. Village Preservation strongly opposed the proposal, which would have altered the house and rear house in ways that eliminated or diminished defining elements of the remarkably intact, double-landmarked structures, while also digging deep under both structures and their rear yards to create subterranean recreational space, potentially endangering these buildings and its landmarked neighbors. We are pleased that the commissioners echoed many of the objections we raised, and pushed back on the applicant’s false contentions about the legal jurisdiction of the LPC to regulate elements of the house, and on their contentions about the history of the structures to justify their proposed changes — watch the video of the meeting here.

More than 750 of you responded to our call to oppose this application, sending more than 1,500 letters to the LPC and its Chair urging them to reject this proposal — thank you! The commissioners also cited recent issues with excavation and similar work leading to damage to landmarked properties as part of their rationale for rejecting this plan — issues we have worked hard to call attention to, publicize, and demand a response to from the city.

The applicant can and likely will return with a revised application, though the LPC has made clear it will not accept certain elements of what has been proposed here. It will require careful monitoring and an ongoing vigorous response to help ensure that inappropriate and damaging changes are not approved here in the future. Village Preservation regularly monitors for, reviews, and shares information on proposed changes to all 3,500 landmarked properties in our neighborhoods to help ensure their historic integrity remains intact. 

Help ensure we can continue to protect this and other historic buildings in our neighborhoods:

August 17, 2023

Plan To Alter and Potentially Undermine Landmarked 1834 House and Carriage House Returns Tuesday

Proposal Could Destroy One of NYC’s First Landmarks, Former Home of Photographer Diane Arbus

131 (l.) and 131 1/2 Charles Street, located between Washington and Greenwich Streets

This coming Tuesday the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will consider a revised application to alter and perform extensive potentially dangerous and damaging excavation work under 131 and 131 1/2 Charles Street, an almost perfectly intact 1834 Federal-style house and its rear carriage house, which were among the first sites to be designated a NYC landmark by the then-new LPC in 1966 and are listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places. The rear carriage house, which also dates to the 19th century, was the home of photographer Diane Arbus (1923-1971) from 1959 to 1968, at the height of her too-short career. In 2006, Village Preservation got the house and backhouse doubly landmarked, along with several dozen surrounding buildings, as part of an extension of the Greenwich Village Historic District.

In January, Village Preservation and allies were able to beat back an earlier version of this plan, which the LPC sent back to the drawing board, echoing several objections we had raised. The new version of the proposal — which still involves extensive excavation under the house, yard, and carriage house, potentially endangering all structures and neighboring landmarked ones as well, eliminating the historic horsewalk, building onto the house’s original sloped roof and rear, and altering the carriage house, which is intact to Arbus’s residence — will be considered as a “revision” of the original proposal, and therefore public testimony will not be allowed. However, the public can submit written testimony to be considered, and we strongly urge you to do so!

Given the city’s troublingly poor track record of ensuring that excavation work is done safely and in a manner that does not endanger the building in question or its neighbors (as reported earlier this week), it is especially critical that this plan be rejected.

Written testimony will be accepted until Monday at noon, but it is recommended that it be received by 5PM TODAY to make it into Commissioners’ packets for consideration.

Those wishing to observe the hearing on this item in person or online can find out how to do so here (the estimated time this item will be heard won’t be posted until late on Friday). More information on this application can be found here.

August 11, 2023

“Bizarre” Redesign for Townhouse on Greenwich Village/MePa Border at 829 Greenwich Street Rejected

(l.) The current 829 Greenwich Street; (r.) the rejected proposed alteration

We are happy to report that a proposed radical redesign of a modernist townhouse at 829 Greenwich Street that Village Preservation strongly opposed was rejected yesterday by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC). The house, constructed in 2003 at the northernmost site in the Greenwich Village Historic District where it meets the Gansevoort Market (Meatpacking District) Historic District, was originally approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission with support by Village Preservation, and serves as a thoughtful transition between the residential and traditionally industrial neighborhoods. While the current celebrated design fits comfortably in both districts, the strange proposed redesign inserting huge rounded windows into the facade would have been a terrible mistake. We were pleased that the LPC agreed.

The applicant will now have the option of rethinking their design to address changes they are seeking for the house while maintaining a design that is respectful of its surroundings. As discussed at the hearing, they have a range of options to consider for doing so — watch the hearing video here. See our 829 Greenwich Street landmarks application page here.

Village Preservation carefully reviews every application for major changes to the more than 3,500 landmarked properties in our neighborhoods, provides information to the public about them and how you can weigh in on the decision-making process, and advocates before the LPC for decisions we believe maintain the special character of our neighborhoods. More here.

August 9, 2023

Updates on Safety and Stability at Landmarked Sites: 10-14 Fifth Avenue and 50-52 Second Avenue/40-42 East 3rd Street

(l.) Newly installed bracing for 12 Fifth Avenue at 14 Fifth Avenue constituting site; (r.) 10, 12, 14, and 20 Fifth Avenue (l. to r.)

Village Preservation continues to press City agencies on their flawed oversight of landmarked properties to help ensure their safety and integrity are maintained. 

At 14 Fifth Avenue, City-approved work (opposed by Village Preservation) in February resulted in damage to neighboring 12 Fifth Avenue and severe damage to 10 Fifth Avenue, causing its evacuation (it remains evacuated today). We have been pressing the City for information and to hold responsible parties accountable. Bracing has been installed for 12 Fifth Avenue to stabilize the building on what was to be the construction site for a 213-ft.-tall tower at 14 Fifth Avenue, and according to City officials a plan has been submitted for work to stabilize and restore 10 Fifth Avenue (though full details have not yet been made public). We have been told that the investigation into the cause of the damage is ongoing, but that the required monitoring of the site and adjacent buildings for movement during construction to detect and prevent problems had indicated that allowable thresholds had been breached. But that information was not reported to the City. The City has so far refused to say who was responsible for this failure and who will be held accountable. We continue to press for information and full accountability.

50-52 Second Ave. (l.) and adjacent construction site

At 50-52 Second Avenue/40-42 East 3rd Street in the East Village, Village Preservation has been working with the owner of this landmarked 1899 Renaissance Revival-style tenement, designed by the prominent firm of Schneider & Herter, to ensure the safety of this residential property in the face of potentially dangerous work and reckless neglect at an adjacent development site. The building’s owner has had to fight tirelessly to prevent the City from allowing work next door that experts say would dangerously undermine his building, and to prevent the adjacent construction site from being left open to vandals and criminals who then have access to his building and its residents. We have been working with the owner to try to get City agencies to enforce the law and keep this site safe, and to shine a light on the failure of proper oversight by the City.

In the wake of 50-52 Second Avenue owner’s Herculean efforts to protect his building, the developer of the adjacent property has ceased construction and is seeking to sell the property, granting the owner a reprieve for now. We’ll continue to work to try to help ensure the safety of this building. Read more here for further details.

August 9, 2023

Village Preservation Gives Your Guide to LGBTQ+ Pride History

In anticipation of the upcoming Pride Weekend, Village Preservation Executive Director Andrew Berman was asked to join the hosts of Mornings on NY1 to discuss LGBTQ+ historic sites in our neighborhoods and our ongoing efforts to preserve them. He discussed three sites Village Preservation has already succeeded in getting landmarked — the Stonewall Inn, Julius’ Bar, and the Pyramid Club — as well as Lorraine Hansberry’s Waverly Place residence, where we placed a plaque in 2017, and the former headquarters of the country’s first national gay rights organization at 80 Fifth Avenue, which we are campaigning to have landmarked along with the surrounding proposed South of Union Square Historic District.

Watch the video HERE.

Village Preservation has a vast array of resources, including maps, tours, archival images, and oral history interviews connected to the incredibly rich LGBTQ+ history in our neighborhoods. 

You can also help us to honor and preserve the many LGBTQ+ historic sites in our neighborhood that currently lack landmark designation, and could be destroyed at any time. 

June 20, 2023

City Considering Even Larger Development for 388 Hudson Affordable Housing Site — Up to 35 Stories

Last week, the city presented its latest thinking on potential development plans for the vacant city-owned site at 388 Hudson Street (at Clarkson Street) across from JJ Walker Park. At the urging of Community Board 2, the city has been considering increasingly larger development possibilities for the 100% affordable housing structure to be built there — expanding possibilities from the originally planned 100-unit, 145-ft.-tall, 14-story building, to several other larger possibilities, up to and including an approximately 35-story, 365-ft.-tall, 335-unit building — the largest legally allowable under state law and NYC zoning (the adjacent City-As-School building is approximately 85 ft. tall according to city records; 2 Fifth Avenue is 20 stories and 207 ft. tall).

The city is yet to hold its promised public meeting with the community to discuss its thinking on the project (originally planned for May), but gave a tentative commitment at the meeting to hold one on July 27. They are however continuing to gather feedback from the public via their website at See their presentation to Community Board 2 here.

Village Preservation continues to call for a building on this site that maximizes affordable housing while respecting its context as a transition point between the denser loft buildings of Hudson Square to the south and the low-rise residential buildings of the West Village and Greenwich Village Historic District to the north. We are also urging that shadows on the well-utilized JJ Walker Park directly to the north of the site be taken into account, and that rather than building a taller building, the city add mass to the southern portion of the site wherever possible.

If you want to share your opinions about the planned development, email the following:

June 20, 2023

Next Monday — City Council District 2 Candidate Forum

Join us next Monday, May 15, for a forum for candidates of City Council District 2, which as a result of redistricting will include all of Greenwich Village north of Houston Street and east of Sixth Avenue, as well as all of NoHo and the East Village, and most of the east side between Fifth and First Avenues, 14th and 30th Streets (new map HERE).

City Council District 2 is currently represented by Carlina Rivera. Rivera is running for re-election for the two-year term; however, as in the last election in 2021, Rivera has refused to participate in this candidate forum. Democratic candidate Allison Ryan has confirmed participation.

The primary election will be held on June 27, with early voting June 17-25. The general election will be held on November 7, 2023. Village Preservation’s candidate forum will focus on preservation and development issues in our city and neighborhoods. The newly redistricted Council District 2 includes sites of many recent and ongoing preservation battles, including 10/14 Fifth Avenue, the South of Union Square landmarking effort, the SoHo/NoHo Rezoning, and myriad efforts in the East Village, from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary to Theatre 80 and CHARAS.

May 9, 2023