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April 2009
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Archive for April, 2009

MAS Joins David McCullough to Protect the Brooklyn Bridge

david mccullough speechYesterday, the Municipal Art Society joined author & historian David McCullough and several other organizations and individuals (including the DUMBO Neighborhood Association, the Brooklyn Heights Association, the Historic Districts Council, the Roebling Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology, Council Member David Yassky, Council Member Bill DeBlasio‘s office, and Council Member Tony Avella) in asking the City Council to reject a plan for an 18-story building on Dock Street in DUMBO, directly adjacent to the Brooklyn Bridge. The development would encroach upon the Bridge, affecting iconic view both of and from the Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge, as David McCullough has so eloquently articulated, is one of the most beloved structures in New York City, if not in America and the world. It is one of only 11 National Historic Landmarks in Brooklyn — as such it has been afforded the highest level of recognition in our country. Continue Reading>>

Landmarks Hearing for IRT Powerhouse Planned for Bastille Day

con ed irt powerhouse front portionPreservation advocates received good news last week regarding the future of the Con Ed Powerhouse, located in the northern reaches of Hell’s Kitchen, on the block bounded by 11th Avenue and 59th Street, and 12th Avenue and 58th Street in Manhattan. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) announced plans to hold a public hearing, to consider the individual landmark designation of the building, on July 14th, 2009. The former Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) Powerhouse was designed by acclaimed architect Stanford White, of McKim, Mead & White, and was built in 1904 in the Renaissance Revival style. The splendidly detailed, industrial building has been considered by the LPC twice before — once in 1979 and again in 1990 — but was never granted landmark status. Earlier this year, in keeping with our commitment to the preservation of New York City’s industrial heritage, MAS sent a letter to the LPC supporting the proposed designation. Continue Reading>>

How to Manufacture a Greener New York in Focus at MAS Tonight

gowanus canalA few years ago, many believed that manufacturing was dead in New York City. But now it is widely understood that manufacturing jobs are critical to a diverse, decentralized, and healthy economy as well as to a greener New York. Manufacturing jobs are also good jobs, which pay $10,000 more per year than restaurant work or entry-level retail jobs. Plus, over 60% of manufacturing jobs come with health care coverage, unlike most restaurant and retail work. Join us tomorrow night and listen to an outstanding panel discuss opportunities and challenges ahead from their varied perspectives. Manufacturing a Greener New York: More Industries, More Jobs Tomorrow Night – Tuesday, April 28, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., Reception to follow. At The Municipal Art Society, 457 Madison Avenue, MAP. Moderator: Adam Friedman, executive director, New York Industrial Retention Network. Panelists: Andrew Kimball, president and chief executive officer, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp.; Omar Freilla, founder and director, Green Worker Cooperatives; Rebecca Lurie, director of development, Consortium for Worker Education; and Dawn Ladd, founder and president, Aurora Lampworks. $15, $10 MAS members. Purchase tickets online or call 212 935 2075.

The Cage, A Place That Matters

west village west 4th street basketball courts cage shotThe West 4th Street Courts, aka “the Cage,” at West 4th Street and Avenue of the Americas, was one of ten 2008 Place Matters honorees for creating public space. The site now occupied by the West 4th Street Courts was originally acquired by the City in the 1920s as a result of the widening of Sixth Avenue. Though the site was not formally assigned to the Parks Department until 1953, a playground had opened at the location in 1935. Some time during the 1950s, the lot was paved and basketball hoops were installed. This court, only half of regulation size and literally encaged by a 20-foot high chain-link fence (hence its nickname), draws basketball lovers from all over the city, and moreover the world. These basketball aficionados come both to play and watch some of the best street-ball there is. Each year, the Cage hosts the West 4th Street Summer League.  Founded by Kenny Graham in 1977, the league is the oldest summer basketball program in New York City and the only tournament that runs seven-days-a-week from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Continue Reading>>

Don’t Sit on the Sidelines: Learn How to Plan Your Neighborhood’s Future Today

sidewalk people fruit cartWhile the recession cuts deep into New Yorker’s pocketbooks and neighborhoods, we can take strength from the fact that the city has weathered hard times before. Many of our neighborhoods — Melrose, Park Slope, Tribeca, Bushwick — have come to symbolize the enormous regenerative power of the city — power that comes about when when communities are actively involved in planning. Developers know that times of recession are times to plan for the comeback — communities know this, too. New York City is changing and the Livable Neighborhoods Program is designed to help communities plan for equitable and sustainable change — now and into the future. Our next full day of training will be Saturday, May 16 at Hunter College. Continue Reading>>

Nathan’s Famous: A Coney Island Institution

Although today one can get Nathan’s hot dogs in towns all across America, Nathan’s Famous is still synonymous with Coney Island. The Coney Island legend opened in 1916 and has been serving hot dogs on Surf Avenue ever since. While Coney Island has changed over the last 93 years, Nathan’s has remained a constant, remaining open all year round, rain or shine. Nathan Handwerker, a Polish immigrant and founder of Nathan’s, did not in fact invent the hot dog, but he does deserve credit for making it one of America’s most popular foods. Moreover, it has been argued that Handwerker is the father of American fast food, providing cheap, quick, and easy food for the masses then as now. Continue Reading>>

MAS Calls for Green House Gas Emission Analysis in SEQRA

earth from spaceIn honor of Earth Day, MAS has released a study that details a suggested framework for analyzing climate change, and enables New York State to evaluate and address the potential climate change impact of different actions in land-use, energy and industrial transportation, and other issues. In order to fight climate change, it is critical that we reduce green house gases (GHG). Just last week, the Environmental Protection Agency formally declared six green house gasses to be pollutants that endanger public health and welfare. The MAS study concludes that the state has the ability to require far-reaching environmental review that can substantially advance efforts to reduce GHG. Meaningful environmental review can greatly assist governmental agencies and the public in understanding the climate change consequences of an action, while helping to address the resulting impacts. “Climate change is a global challenge and New Yorkers have the responsibility to aggressively reduce GHG emissions and prepare for the changes in air temperature, sea level, and precipitation, and the massive implications of those changes, to human and natural environments,” said Vin Cipolla, President of the Municipal Art Society. “New York is making great strides to reduce the state’s GHG emissions, but more solutions can and should be pursued to drastically reduce its contribution to global climate change.” Continue Reading>>

Reclaiming the Gowanus: From Lavender Lake to Superfund?

As long as the 1.5 mile long Gowanus Canal in Southwest Brooklyn has been polluted, people and government agencies have sought solutions to the vexing problems posed by this artificially created waterway; and, through the decades community organizations have organized to clean up the canal’s water and adjacent land and to prevent further contamination. Most recently plans to reinvent and redevelop the Gowanus Canal area have collided over the potential registration of the Gowanus as a national Superfund site by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This potential designation, sought at the behest of New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, recognizes the complexity of cleaning up the area due to the widespread presence of highly noxious toxins found both in the Canal’s water and abutting land. Continue Reading>>

The City in the Age of Obama:
Panel Discussion Tonight

new york city aerial brooklyn dumbo manhattan skylineTransforming America’s Cities: Creating a National Urban Policy, the first panel discussion in the MAS series The City in the Age of Obama, will take plan next Tuesday, April 21. About 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas, yet for decaades the Federal government lacked a comprehensive approach to developing and implementing an effective strategy concerning urban America. In February, President Obama created the White House Office of Urban Affairs, now led by former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, to oversee all federal urban programs and integrate policies that link transportation, housing, economic development, energy and environmental issues. A panel of policymakers, academics and practitioners will discuss how stakeholders can capitalize on this opportunity to fundamentally rethink our federal urban policy and ensure that smart investments are made at the municipal level. Vicki Been of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, New York University, will moderate the panel. Speakers include Eugenie Birch, University of Pennsylvania; Christopher Jones, Regional Plan Association; Toni Griffin, City of Newark; Anthony Shorris, Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management. Tuesday, April 21, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., at the Municipal Art Society. $15, $10 MAS members.

Two Carnegie Libraries in the Bronx Designated

hunts point nypl branchThe Landmarks Preservation Commission today designated two new landmarks in the Bronx and added two other items to the “calendar” – which is the first step in the designation process. The city’s newest landmarks, the Hunts Point and Woodstock branches of the New York Public Library, are both Carnegie libraries, located in the Bronx. The items that were calendared are a proposed Ridgewood South Historic District in Queens and a private residence in Staten Island. The two landmarked libraries were created using the famous 1901 grant from Andrew Carnegie. The grant was intended for the design and construction of new library buildings, allowing the New York Public Library to create 39 neighborhood branches. Continue Reading>>

From Food To Freak Shows: Coney Island’s Unsung Childs Restaurant

coney island usa organization buildingThe former Childs restaurant building on Surf Avenue and 12th Street is today home to the organization, Coney Island USA, but the building’s role in Coney Island’s amusement area extends much further back. The building was originally constructed in 1917 in the Spanish Colonial Revival style for the Childs restaurant chain, a cafeteria-style restaurant founded in the 1880s in lower Manhattan which eventually grew to have over 100 locations in America and Canada. This building was the first of two Childs restaurants constructed in Coney Island; the other building on the Boardwalk was designated a landmark in 2003 and is currently home to Lola Staar’s Dreamland Roller Rink. The Childs restaurant chain was the creation of Samuel and William Childs. They revolutionized the American restaurant chain by creating a uniform look to each of their branches in order to make their restaurants recognizable. Continue Reading>>

Celebration of the Life and Work of Dorothy Miner

dorothy minerThe friends of Dorothy Marie Miner invite you to join us this Thursday, April 16, at 4:00 p.m. for a celebration of her life and work. The tribute will take place at Columbia University’s St. Paul’s Chapel. Dorothy’s legacy as a lawyer, preservationist, and teacher will be further honored and continued through the Dorothy Miner Memorial Travel Fellowship Fund.  The fund has been established by the Historic Preservation Program of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, where Dorothy taught and mentored for many years. Dorothy always encouraged students to travel, and this fund will help students defray travel expenses related to their theses. Continue Reading>>