April 2010
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Archive for April, 2010

Preservation Community Celebrates 45th Anniversary of Landmarks Law

prospect-park-boathouse

Photo: Prospect Park boathouse, Brooklyn. Just one of the many historic buildings protected under the New York landmarks law. Photo: Al Rabowitz

Last week, MAS President Vin Cipolla joined a host of committed New York City preservationists, including Paul Goldberger, Anthony C. Wood, and Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel in the landmark interior of the Four Seasons Restaurant to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the New York Landmarks Preservation 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.

The New Yorker architectural critic and Pulitzer Prize winning writer Paul Goldberger reflected on the immense beneficial impact the Landmarks Preservation Law has had on the built environment of New York City, comparing the respective ages of the landmark Four Seasons Hotel (52 years) to that of the original Penn Station (also 52), when it was torn down immediately prior to the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Mr. Goldberger said, “Preservation assures us that the city will have the resonance, the layers of time always being visible, that we need it to to be a civilized place.” But, he said, New York should not become “some grotesque version of Williamsburg on the Hudson.”

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Show Your Support for Moynihan Station at Tomorrow’s Hearing

madison square garden

This Wednesday, April 28, the Moynihan Station Development Corporation (MSDC) is holding a hearing on the updated plans for Moynihan Station. They are seeking comments on two technical documents they released earlier this month, the Draft Amended General Project Plan and the Environmental Assessment.

The two documents reflect how similar the project is to what was approved in 2006, and provide details on the few key differences. The project has now been broken down into manageable phases that are achievable (described below), and Amtrak is identified as the primary transportation tenant in the new station — something MAS and other civic groups have long advocated for.

Phase 1, which consists largely of improvements below ground, will begin this year and be completed in 2015. This phase is fully funded and will result in improved circulation and greater access to platforms. The most visible part of this work will be two new entries into the Farley Post Office building, at street level on Eighth Avenue.

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Is the Second City First When it Comes to Beautiful and Sustainable Streetscapes?

indiana-14th-street chicago

Photo: Landscaped medians, S. Indiana Ave. and 14th St., Chicago, IL

Should streets be treated as places? How is the New York City Department of Transportation transforming our city streets? Will the entire city benefit? What are the possible economic benefits of this new holistic approach?

As streets across the United States are being changed to accommodate the needs of all users (pedestrians, bicyclists, bus riders, the old, the young, and car and truck drivers), this Thursday’s program, The Complete Street, will feature four exceptional presentations – including one from Janet Attarian, director of Streetscape & Sustainable Design Program, Chicago — on urban streets as they are and could be.

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MAS Supports New Efforts To Decongest City’s Parks

street vendors at central park

Photo: Central Park along Fifth Avenue by the N, R, W subway station.

The City’s Parks Department will hold an April 23 public hearing on a proposal to regulate the sale of “materials or objects with expressive content” — such as books, paintings, photographs and sculptures — in the City’s parks.

The proposed rule will designate the number of specific locations where vendors of expressive material may sell their goods in four Manhattan parks: Battery Park, Union Square Park, the High Line Park, and heavily trafficked areas on Central Park. Vendors would not be restricted in less congested areas of Central Park. The rule also regulates vendors of expressive matter in other parks.

MAS testified in favor of the measures, which should improve pedestrian flow and overall enjoyment of the parks, at this morning’s hearing. To read our testimony in full, click here. “Since its founding, MAS has been both an advocate for the arts and for limited commercial activity in our parks,” said President Vin Cipolla. “We are extremely sensitive to the needs of entrepreneurial artists who need to make a living, but we also want to make sure the needs of the greater public are considered.”

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Jane’s Walks Honor Jacobs’ Legacy with Neighborhood Tours in Early May

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In honor of the late activist and author Jane Jacobs, Jane’s Walk USA — a non-profit that helps local citizens across America organize community walking tours — will be hosting a number of tours in New York City on May 1 and 2.

Jane Jacobs believed strongly that local residents understand best how their neighborhood works, and what is needed to strengthen and improve them, so all Jane’s Walks are led by local people. Jane’s Walks are also all given for free.

Events slated for New York City will include: the challenges facing the Columbia Street waterfront district of Brooklyn; little-known parts of Spanish Harlem; a Who’s Who tour of the Upper West Side; and a bicycle tour of Broadway led by urban critic and journalist Roberta Gratz.

Jane’s Walk tours combine the simple act of exploring neighborhoods with personal observations, local history, and civic engagement, which MAS also actively promotes.