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Archive for March, 2010

New York’s Changing Streetscapes in Focus This April

ny-changing-streetscapes-postcardThe Municipal Art Society of New York is celebrating the arrival of spring with an entire month devoted to the city’s streets — those elements (including roads, adjoining buildings, sidewalks, street furniture, trees, plantings and open spaces) that combine to form the character of a street. We chose New York’s Changing Streetscapes for our April tour and events series because streets constitute more than a quarter of our city — our largest public space — and can be a core indicator of livability. We have assembled exciting and thought-provoking panels of experts to discuss ways to build a better street, and to examine what New York can learn from other great cities. These panel discussions are complemented by a range of streets-focused tours. “The Municipal Art Society is pleased to continue its long-standing tradition of offering events that educate and enlighten New Yorkers about their city,” said Vin Cipolla, MAS President. “New Yorkers’ growing interest in developing the city’s pedestrian areas could make this one of our most popular series yet.” Our month-long series kicks-off on Saturday, April 3, with Manhattan Streetscapes: The Good, Bad & The Awful, a tour of some of the best and worst streetscapes that Manhattan has to offer, from the charm of Stone Street to others that sport sorry furniture and illegal signage. This tour is supplemented on Wednesday, April 7 by the panel discussion Are New York’s Streets Out of (Design) Control? . Events and tours are priced at $15, $10 MAS members and are open to the public. Please note the various locations around the city. For more information about these events, visit MAS.org/calendar or call 212 935-2075. Continue Reading>>

Poll: As LPC Celebrates a Landmark Birthday, Vote for Your Favorite Landmark

landmarks Clockwise from top left: Snug Harbor, Staten Island, photo Robert Catalano; Prospect Park boathouse, Brooklyn, photo Al Rabowitz; Cornelius Baker Hall, Bronx, Colonnade Row, Manhattan, and Kingsland Homestead, Queens, photos Emilio Guerra. This April marks the 45th anniversary of the Landmarks Law. Enacted in 1965, with support from MAS, the law ensured that the historic character of New York City’s built environment would be protected with the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. To celebrate this “landmark” anniversary, we’re inviting you to tell us which building that was saved from demolition thanks to the Landmarks Law is your favorite. Choose from these five historic structures, among the first to be landmarked in their respective boroughs.  

Scaglione Brothers Bakery & Deli, a Place that Matters

Place Matters is joint project of MAS and City Lore. scaglione bros bakeryThe Scaglione Brothers Bakery & Deli was nominated to the Census of Places that Matter for being a cherished feature of the Morris Park neighborhood in the Bronx.  Since the 1950s, three generations of the Scaglione family have been making fresh bread and focaccia daily in their Morris Park Avenue location, making it a mainstay of this Italian-American neighborhood. The Sicilian immigrant father of current owner, Joe Scaglione, Sr., opened the first Scaglione family bakery on East 113th Street and Second Avenue prior to World War II.  In 1944, the Scaglione family moved their bakery from East Harlem to White Plains Road in the Bronx, and they relocated again in 1950 to their current location.  In the post World War II era, the Morris Park neighborhood of the Bronx was growing as an Italian-American neighborhood, making it an ideal location for the bakery.  Many Italian-American families looking for affordable single family homes to buy left their neighborhoods in Manhattan and southern Bronx for Morris Park. The Italian-American presence is still strong in Morris Park, which has one of the highest Italian-American populations in New York City and which is known to rival the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue for being the borough’s quintessential Italian-American neighborhood. Continue Reading>>

MAS Members Can Help Save Parks and Preservation Funding

eldridge street synagogue front lower east sideEssential preservation funds, historic sites and parks will be impacted by proposed state and federal budget cuts. MAS encourages its members to take action to urge lawmakers to restore funding for these important programs. “In these difficult economic times, some may argue that preservation and parks are luxuries we can do without. But preservation isn’t just about reminding us of our past. The restoration work funded through Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America has generated sorely needed jobs and helped to build sustainable communities. New York State’s Parks and Historic sites offer inexpensive recreational opportunities to New Yorkers just when they need them most,” said MAS President Vin Cipolla. The proposed federal budget cuts may eliminate two long-standing historic preservation funds, Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America. The former was established in 1998 by President Clinton and is a public-private partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Since its creation, the program has awarded almost $294 million in federal grants to over 1,100 preservation efforts across the country. In turn, these grants have leveraged more than $377 million in required matching- and non-federal funds, and the funded construction projects alone have created more than 16,000 jobs. Continue Reading>>

Landmarks-to-Be by the Sea

coney island usa buildingEven though it’s not yet summer, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has Coney Island on its mind. On Tuesday, March 23, the LPC will hold a public hearing on two important historic buildings in Coney Island: the Shore Theater and the former Childs restaurant on Surf Avenue (now home to the arts organization, Coney Island USA). In response to the hearing’s announcement, MAS President Vin Cipolla said: “These two buildings are incredibly intact remnants of early 20th-century Coney Island. The former Childs restaurant, now owned and invigorated by the arts organization, Coney Island USA, is a wonderful example of how Coney Island’s historic resources can be part of a revitalized Coney Island. The Shore Theater, although currently in disuse, has the potential to be a great performance space in Coney Island and to enhance the area’s revitalization. I commend the Landmarks Preservation Commission for taking steps to protect these two important Coney Island buildings.” Continue Reading>>

This Sunday, Stroll Through Rosebank, Staten Island, with MAS

alice-austen-houseNext Sunday, join tour leader and architectural historian Francis Morrone as he leads what is becoming an annual visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the Alice Austen House in Rosebank, Staten Island. Recently, we asked Francis what it was that appealed to him so much about a quiet corner of a little-known borough. He replied:
“Both the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the Austen house are among the lesser-known gems of New York. The former is a great folk-art shrine, a stunning example of how old-world folkways and spiritual traditions have been translated to the big modern city. The Austen house has it all: a colonial house transformed into the city’s finest surviving Downingesque cottage; the story of Alice herself, whose life exemplifies the progressive woman of the early 20th century and who was also a great pioneering photographer; and a unique, beautiful waterfront setting. What the two have in common is that they show layers of time, and tell complicated, compelling stories. Rosebank, as a whole, symbolizes a whole Italian-American way of life, the semiotic transposition of contadini values to the New World. This resonates powerfully with me, for it is bound up with my own family history and intense interest in Italian-American history.”
Sunday, March 21, 12:45–approximately 4:30 p.m. A Stroll through Rosebank, Staten Island Bring a MetroCard. $15, $10 MAS members. Includes admission fee for Alice Austen House and refreshments. Reservations required. Meet at the top of the escalators in the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, next to Battery Park. (Transit: #1 train to South Ferry; R train to Whitehall). MAP. Call 212 935 2075 for tickets — we only have a few places left. For more upcoming MAS tours and events, visit MAS.org/calendar.

“I LEGO N.Y.” Available Now at Urban Center Books, the MAS Bookstore

i-lego-ny-bookI LEGO N.Y. is an imaginative new look at life in New York City constructed entirely out of LEGOs. The former New Yorker illustrator, Christoph Niemann, posted photographs of his creations along with his handwritten captions on his New York Times blog. Resident and honorary New Yorkers around the world responded enthusiastically to the clever and minimalist inventions, which captured both the iconic (the Empire State Building) and the mundane (man standing on a subway platform) in fewer LEGO pieces than one might think possible. This book includes all of the original images, plus 13 new creations. The resulting collection is delightful in its simplicity and moving in its ability to capture the spirit of life in New York in so few strokes. Published on March 1, 2010, by Abrams Image, and priced at $14.95, I LEGO N.Y. is available now for purchase online at the MAS bookstore for architecture and design. MAS members receive 10% off all purchases at Urban Center Books. (Note: discount is deducted from total cost post-sale. You will see the reduced price on your credit card bill, not at check-out.) To become a member of MAS, visit MAS.org/membership.

Kentile Sign, a Place that Matters

Place Matters is a joint project of City Lore and MAS. kentile floors sign gowanusThe Kentile Sign along the Gowanus Canal was nominated to the Census of Places that Matter for serving as a symbol of Gowanus’ industrial heritage and for being a remnant of this former Brooklyn business. Highly visible from the both the Gowanus Expressway and the F train, this 8-story-high sign dominates the Gowanus skyline even though Kentile Floors left Brooklyn in the late 1980s and the sign’s neon purple letters are no longer illuminated. Founded in 1898 by Arthur Kennedy (hence the name, Kentile), the company had factories in both Queens and Long Island before building a new plant on 2nd Avenue along the Gowanus Canal in 1949.  The iconic “Kentile Floors” sign was likely erected at this time. Kentile specialized in vinyl and asphalt floor covering that featured bold colors and patterns. Continue Reading>>

MAS Statement on EPA Designation of Gowanus Canal as Superfund Site

gowanus canal 9th st bridgeWe expect that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Gowanus Canal Superfund designation will create the comprehensive clean up plan this polluted waterway so desperately needs. We believe the Gowanus area has great potential as a thriving manufacturing and arts district. The city has pledged to support the EPA’s clean up efforts. MAS looks forward to working with the city on developing a plan for the Gowanus area that nurtures and safeguards existing businesses and creates space for new industries and sorely needed job growth.