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Landmarks Commission Launches Permit Applications Database

Finally! The Landmarks Preservation Commission has made the agency’s permits available in an online database. For the first time, members of the public are able to learn the status of applications and permits issued during the previous two years by visiting the Commission’s website. Advocates and elected officials have called for this transparency measure for years, and MAS applauds LPC for making good on their promise.

Click here to access the new Permit Applications Database.

Betsy Head Park Community Discussion

On Saturday, June 4th, MAS is one of a group of organizations partnering with the Friends of Brownsville Parks to host a community discussion about short, medium and long-term goals for Betsy Head Park. This work is a continuation of a series of programs that MAS has organized in collaboration with the Brownsville Partnership, and an initiative of Community Solutions and the Brownsville Community Justice Center including:

  • Two annual Hope Summits, a series of town hall style public meetings inviting residents to influence and design strategies to address the immediate and long-term planning goals for Brownsville
  • A Livable Neighborhoods Program workshop series, giving Brownsville residents the knowledge they need to become stronger advocates for their communities
  • Designing Change, a youth program leveraging the transformative power of urban planning and design to foster development and neighborhood solidarity and equipping 15-20 young residents with the skills needed to act as agents of change
  • And some initial community engagement work around Betsy Head conducted during a cleanup day in October of 2015

The discussion will be held in the Betsy Head Pool gym, at 694 Thomas S Boyland Street, from 10am to 2pm. It is free and open to the public and lunch will be provided. If you are interested in volunteering to help please contact Joanna Crispe, Director of Neighborhood-Based Initiatives, at jcrispe@mas.org.

Download the full flyer here (PDF) >>

MAS’ Greenacre Reference Library Online Catalog

The Municipal Art Society has just published an online catalog for the over 3,000 books and reports contained in its Greenacre Reference Library collection.

Devoted to the complex ecology of New York City and beyond, urban culture and the environment, natural and built, the library was established in 1978 as The Information Exchange. Researchers will find a rich source of information in a supportive setting.

In addition to books, approximately 2,000 archival publications and ephemera—on paper—produced by MAS over the course of its history can be viewed in the library. For more about information resources available through MAS, see http://www.mas.org/aboutmas/researchlibrary/.

The library is free and open to the public by appointment, Monday through Friday during office hours. To schedule an appointment, please contact Erin Butler, at 212-935-3960 x1274 or ebutler@mas.org.

Looking forward to 12 new landmarks in East Midtown

Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) announced that seven buildings in East Midtown may become individual landmarks as part of their Greater East Midtown Initiative.

The following buildings now have provisional protection through the calendaring process:

  • Minnie E. Young Residence, 19 East 54th Street, 1899-1900, Hiss & Weekes
  • Martin Erdman Residence, now the Friar’s Club, 57 East 55th Street, 1908-09, Taylor & Levi
  • 18 East 41st Street, 1912-14, George & Edward Blum
  • Yale Club, 50 Vanderbilt Avenue, 1915, James Gamble Rogers*
  • Hampton Shops Building, 18-20 East 50th Street, 1915, Rouse & Goldstone*
  • 400 Madison Avenue, 1928-9, H. Craig Severance
  • Citicorp Center & St. Peter’s Church, 601 Lexington Avenue, 1974-8, Hugh A. Stubbins, Jr.

*Supported by The Municipal Art Society, The New York Landmarks Conservancy, and the Historic Districts Council

In 2013, the LPC had calendared the Pershing Square Building, 125 Park Avenue*; Graybar Building, 420 Lexington Avenue*; Shelton Hotel, 525 Lexington Avenue*; Hotel Lexington, 511 Lexington Avenue*; and Beverly Hotel, 557 Lexington Avenue. These five items will be heard by the LPC this summer, on Tuesday, July 19th.

The Municipal Art Society is pleased to see 12 buildings on the way to individual landmark status, though we would have preferred that the full roster of our submissions fall under the protection of the Landmarks Law.

“Hamilton” and “In Jackson Heights” Named 2016 Brendan Gill Prize Winners

Hamilton: An American Musical & In Jackson Heights
Selected for The Municipal Art Society’s Brendan Gill Prize

(May 5, 2016 | New York, NY) – The Municipal Art Society has named Hamilton: An American Musical and In Jackson Heights as the winners of the 2016 Brendan Gill Prize. Representatives from both teams will be presented with the prestigious award by MAS President Gina Pollara and Board Chair Frederick Iseman during the organization’s Annual Meeting on Wednesday, May 11. The event, announced on April 19, will be held at the Ford Foundation office and is oversubscribed.

“We are delighted to honor these twin works of art from 2015 that celebrated the role of immigrants in shaping the history and culture of New York City,” said MAS President Gina Pollara. “The brashly revolutionary Hamilton: An American Musical and the quietly profound In Jackson Heights together reaffirm New York’s identity as the birthplace of the American dream and a city that is made ever stronger by its diversity.”
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Jane’s Walk Weekend is Back—and Bigger than Ever

Jane’s Walk Weekend is Back—and Bigger than Ever

Municipal Art Society Hosts 250+ Free Walking Tours Across NYC,
An Annual Tribute to Urbanist Jane Jacobs

On May 6-8, thousands of New Yorkers will walk the city’s streets for the 100th birthday of urban activist Jane Jacobs. Jane’s Walk NYC, hosted by The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS), is an annual weekend-long celebration featuring 250+ free “walking conversations” throughout the five boroughs, led by urban enthusiasts and local experts who care deeply about their neighborhoods.

All of the MAS-sponsored walks combine the simple act of exploring neighborhoods with personal observations, local history, and civic engagement. A typical walk is 90 minutes and is free and open to the public.
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MAS Testimony to Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises regarding Water Street Upgrades

MAS Testimony to Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises regarding Water Street Upgrades Text Amendment N 160166 ZRM.
May 4, 2016

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) believes an abundance of high quality public space is essential to the well-being of our city. Truly accessible and connected public spaces that are well-designed and thoughtfully programmed add vibrancy to our streets, strengthens our civic culture, and enhances the value of neighborhoods. As such, MAS applauds the efforts of the Alliance for Downtown New York (ADNY), the Department of City Planning (DCP), and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to improve the Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) in the Water Street corridor.
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MAS Testimony to LPC on LinkNYC Wifi Kiosks

MAS Testimony to LPC on LinkNYC Wifi Kiosks
May 3, 2016

“Proposed amendment to section 2-21 of the rules relating to the installation of public communication structures to provide free WiFi and phone service, pursuant to a city-wide
franchise, to replace existing public pay telephones.”

The Municipal Art Society of New York finds the proposed rules amendment to be appropriate. The standards for the approval of the installation of public communications structures (PCS) are similar to the existing approval for public pay telephones (PPT). In fact, PCS devices will replace existing PPT locations offering free rather than paid phone service. In the instance where a new location is desired, it will be presented to the local Community Board for review. The PCS kiosks will not be installed in historic paving or directly in front of individual landmark buildings, and advertising panels are prohibited in residential districts.

Like the telephone service of a previous era, free Wi-Fi is a public utility — one that should benefit all New Yorkers equally.

Download testimony (PDF) »»

MAS & RPA Joint Statement on Penn Station Proposal Deadline

MAS & RPA Joint Statement on Penn Station Proposal Deadline
April 22, 2016

Today is a critically important day for the future of Penn Station, our city and the tri-state region. Developer responses to New York State’s request for proposals to upgrade Penn Station and Moynihan Station are due at 4:00 PM today. The Municipal Art Society and Regional Plan Association commend Governor Andrew Cuomo for his leadership in focusing the public’s attention and motivating the private sector to improve this vital transit hub. As Governor Cuomo stated in January, Penn Station is a miserable warren. We welcome his efforts to bring light and air into the station.

But we need to do more.
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MAS Testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission regarding the Certificate of Appropriateness for the Ford Foundation

MAS Testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission regarding the Certificate of Appropriateness for the Ford Foundation, located at 320 East 43rd Street, Block 1335, Lot 5.
Zoned C5-2, Community District 6, Manhattan.
April 19, 2016

The Ford Foundation’s philanthropic mission is “to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.” An icon from the moment of its completion in 1967, the organization’s headquarters in New York became an individual landmark as soon as it was eligible. Written nearly 20 years ago, the designation report describes the unusual interior by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates: “It was the rare corporate client that would sacrifice so much rentable area, and turn so much over to a landscaped atrium. When asked why Ford did it, Roche replied “for no reason other than to make a public gesture.””

And so, the Municipal Art Society appreciates the purpose-built intention of this space, and the effort to further the Ford Foundation’s mission through the proposal at hand.
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