June 2015
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Archive for June, 2015

Victory: Stonewall Inn Is Landmarked

MAS Testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission regarding the designation of Stonewall Inn, 51-53 Christopher Street, Manhattan as an Individual Landmark Building

June 22, 2015

The Municipal Art Society (MAS) is a private, non-profit membership organization that advocates for intelligent urban planning, design, and preservation through education, dialogue and advocacy.

MAS supports efforts to preserve cultural landmarks that recognize and protect sites with rich social histories unique to New York City. To this end we support Individual Landmark Designation for the Stonewall Inn, at 51-53 Christopher Street, because of the integral role it played in sparking the modern gay rights movement.

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MAS Reiterates Its Support for Pier55

Re: Civic Group Sues to Halt Hudson River Park Backed by Barry Diller [New York Times, June 12, 2015]

“MAS was proud to testify in support of Pier55 during its extensive public hearing and environmental review process this winter, and we remain strong supporters of the project.

From Brooklyn Bridge Park to the High Line, public/private partnerships have proven to be an indispensable tool for transforming New York’s untapped public spaces. The fact is, Pier 54 is crumbling and neither the State nor the City has the resources or the will to safely repair it.

To oppose this project is to favor inertia over action, caution tape over ribbon-cuttings. Pier55 was conceived in the spirit of cooperation and it deserves the same treatment, even from its detractors.”

-Margaret Newman, Executive Director, Municipal Art Society of New York

Building a Sustainable Civic Commons

Montreal market

Last year MAS, with the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, conducted a series of workshops in various cities to Re-Imagine the Civic Commons. We found that a variety of factors have led to disinvestment in the commons. Many existing assets—post offices for example—have lost their usefulness as societal needs have shifted. These trends, combined with stretched city budgets, have resulted in decreased funds to libraries, reduced community center hours, reductions to park maintenance and programming, and sometimes the disposition of public land.

Like elsewhere in the United States, New York City’s other pressing issues, such as the need to update aging infrastructure and its housing crisis, pushes the maintenance and programming of its rich legacy of assets further to the bottom of its fiscal priorities. Yet the critical civic importance of these gathering places was made all too clear in the wake of Hurricane Sandy when libraries in Queens and Starbucks in Midtown were used by effected communities as disaster resource hubs. While these places have proven important in an emergency, they are also necessary to day-to-day life, presenting opportunities for the social interactions and chance encounters that foster neighborhood cohesion and ingenuity.

On June 11 and 12 , with support from TD Bank and others, MAS will convene delegations from New York, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia, to share common challenges and tested approaches for revitalizing underutilized neighborhood assets. Participants will walk away with effective funding, programming, and management strategies, and together we hope to leverage our collective knowledge and expertise to build a more sustainable civic commons in each of these cities.

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