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Archive for May, 2010

Livable Neighborhoods Program Training Helps New Yorkers Become Effective Advocates for their Communities

On Saturday, May 8, nearly 150 New Yorkers attended the fourth annual Livable Neighborhoods Training Program (LNP) at Hunter College. See slideshow below. The LNP was created to provide communities with the knowledge, tools, and training needed to strengthen neighborhood decision-making and transform local vision into effective plans. Since its inception in 2007, it has served more than 600 New Yorkers. This year’s program was especially exciting as we reached new constituents from communities throughout the five boroughs, with Queens and the Bronx being more strongly represented than in previous years, thanks, in part, to assistance from the offices of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., and Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall. Participants took part in a full day of training in topics including community organizing, affordable housing, and planning for parks and open space. Continue Reading>>

MAS Announces 2010 MASterworks Awards Winners

MAS would like to congratulate the winners of the 2010 MASterworks Awards. This year, the award recipients include Thom Mayne’s 41 Cooper Square as Best New Building, the Empire State Building Lobby Restoration as Best Historical Restoration, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center as Best Redesign, Reef, at Storefront for Art and Architecture as Best Storefront Design, and The High Line, The Concrete Plant Park, and West Harlem Piers Park all as Neighborhood Catalyst. See photos below. Organized annually by The Municipal Art Society (MAS) and sponsored by international banking and investment group Helaba, Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen, the MASterworks Awards recognize excellence in architecture and urban design completed within the last year across New York City. The 2010 Awards will be presented at a ceremony this fall. “The winners this year prove that buildings, parks, and artistic installations are equally masterful in bringing architecture and urban design to new heights,” said MAS President Vin Cipolla. “We are continually impressed and delighted by how our urban environment is enhanced every year by visionary people with extraordinary ideas.” Continue Reading>>

As Coney Comes to Life, a Developer Threatens Demolition

bank of coney islandWhile the City’s Economic Development Corporation is working to create a great summer season in Coney Island by opening a new amusement area and bringing in 23 new rides, one developer announced plans to demolish the oldest historic buildings in the heart of the amusement area this summer. The developer, Thor Equities, plans to replace these historic buildings with temporary shacks for fast food. On the chopping block are the Grashorn building, built in the 1880s; Henderson’s Music Hall, built c. 1899, where Al Jolson and the Marx Brothers performed; the Shore Hotel, dating from 1903 and Coney Island’s only remaining small-scale hotel; and the Bank of Coney Island, constructed in 1923 in the Classical Revival style and intended to show the strength of the Coney Island business community. Continue Reading>>

Kehila Kedosha Janina, A Place That Matters

Kehila Kedosha Janina, at 280 Broome St. in the Lower East Side. Kehila Kedosha Janina — the Holy Congregation of Janina (Ioannina), Greece — is the only congregation in the western hemisphere to identify itself as Romaniote and to practice this ancient form of Judaism that comes from the Mediterranean. The “Yaniotes” arrived in New York as part of a large emigration of Jews from the Ottoman Empire. They established their congregation here in the early years of the twentieth century. Though now past its heyday, the synagogue has survived, and recently a cultural revival has taken root. You can see the new spirit in the restored and landmarked synagogue, the growing attendance, and the historical exhibits located upstairs, on the women’s floor. For information about Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue & Museum, log onto: Or, read about the synagogue by logging onto the PlaceExplorer and select “Place of the Week”. Sunday, May 20th, 1-3 pm, 280 Broome St. (Allen and Eldridge) — Join the congregation as they celebrate their 80th birthday, rededicate the synagogue, and unveil the landmark plaque. Enjoy traditional Greek-Jewish refreshments and a showing of the documentary, “The Last Greeks on Broome Street,” by Ed Askinazi. (Please RSVP to 516-456-9336.)

Made in Midtown: The Future of the Garment District

design trust made midtown logoNew York City’s Midtown Garment District presents a host of planning, economic development and preservation issues as the district has undergone significant change over the last four decades. To chart a course for the future, the Design Trust for Public Space, with its partner, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, has launched Made in Midtown, a project that will document how New York’s fashion industry works today and how it could be the catalyst for future improvements in the Garment District. The Design Trust’s findings, including specific research on international fashion centers provided by The Municipal Art Society, will show how New York’s fashion industry functions as an interconnected ecosystem that is integral to our city’s economy, identity, and sense of place. The Design Trust will launch the project website,, with a day-long event open to the public on June 3 at the Port Authority Pop-Up Space, at Eighth Avenue at 41st Street. Following the launch, the Design Trust and MAS have organized public programming throughout June to publicize the findings and to guide this issue into a public discussion. Continue Reading>>

The State of Our Rails on National Train Day

moynihan station current frontTo mark National Train Day — this Saturday, May 8 — MAS spoke with renowned rail reporter and train enthusiast Don Philips about what’s happening with America’s railroads. From foreign competition for contracts for increasingly popular and lucrative commuter rail lines, to some major top-down changes at Amtrak, to Warren Buffett’s quiet, but major, investment in freight rail, Don told us that right now may well be the most pivotal period in America’s railroads for decades. And, to learn what’s happening at Moynihan Station — New York City’s most important development project — join architectural historian Matt Postal this Saturday, May 8, at 11:00 a.m., for a tour of Moynihan Station and the Far West Side. Tickets are $15, $10 MAS members. No reservations necessary. Meet at the N.W. corner of Sixth Ave. and 30th St. MAP.

MAS President to Be Featured at Citizens Union Event

brooklyn flea marketMAS President Vin Cipolla will be the featured speaker at Citizens Union’s second annual Spring for Reform event, taking place on May 12. The event will honor Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby, co-founders of Brooklyn Flea, for their creativity in building such a successful forum for exchange that are strengthening New Yorkers’ spirit of community. Cipolla said his remarks will focus on the importance of public space in New York and around the nation, and how endeavors like Brooklyn Flea have the power to galvanize communities and transform relationships. “I am very pleased to join Citizens Union at this wonderful event, both to pay tribute to the co-founders of Brooklyn Flea and to talk about why public space plays such a significant role in civic life and livability,” he said. Continue Reading>>

Nominate a Deserving Person, Place, Organization or Event for a MAS Annual Award

annual-awards-2009Photo: MAS board members Susan Freedman and Carole Rifkind flank Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan as she accepts a 2009 MAS Annual Award for the Sustainable Streets Strategic Plan. Credit: Steven Tucker. The 2010 MAS Annual Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 23, when the MAS Annual Awards will be made. Any person, place, organization, or momentous event that has made an exceptional contribution to the life of New York City is eligible for an MAS Annual Award, and we are currently accepting nominations from MAS members and friends through Friday, May 14. To submit a nomination, click here to fill in the online nomination form. For your nomination to be considered, you must include your full name, email address, the official name of the organization, place, event or person you are nominating, and an explanation of why you think it deserves an award. Continue Reading>>

MAS May-June Newsletter Now Available

garment-districtPhoto: W.39th Street, between 7th and 8th avenues. Photo: Giles Ashford Highlighting MAS’ upcoming June program and tour series on Manhattan’s Garment District and announcing our new initiative, Preservation and Climate Change, the May-June issue of the MAS newsletter is hitting mailboxes across the city right now. To read or download the May-June newsletter, click here. MAS thanks the Liman Foundation for its ongoing support of our newsletter. MAS members receive the newsletter six times annually as a benefit of membership. To join MAS, visit

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, A Place That Matters

Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, at 1380 Fulton St., in Brooklyn. Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration is the nation’s oldest community development corporation. Founded in 1967 and lodged in a former Sheffield Farms milk bottling plant, its two boards of directors — one made up of community leaders, the other of professional and business leaders from throughout the city — aimed to rescue Bedford Stuyvesant from the troubles then besieging it. The origins of Restoration are usually attributed to a famous walk through the neighborhood with Senator Robert Kennedy in 1966, but organizing started with a local coalition called the Central Brooklyn Coordinating Council, aided by Pratt Institute. Restoration became a model for hundreds of similar groups that followed around the country, and is part of a long history in NYC of coalition building for community improvement. To learn more, log onto Restoration’s website, or read the Place Matters entry in the PlaceExplorer.
  • Saturday, May 12th, 9:30am-5pm, join the free activities celebrating “Brooklyn Rising: The Roots of Modern Brooklyn” — a Neighborhood Day at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Features several panel discussions with activists, historians, reporters, and writers about the revival of Brooklyn neighborhoods in the 1970s and ’80s; a live TV town hall forum led by author Pete Hamill (with call-ins); and a photo exhibit about the era. Record your own “Brooklyn Neighborhood Story” at a special oral history studio. For more about the full day of events, log onto: