Category Archives: Neighborhood Partner

Help! Spot-zoning bringing towers to Inwood

Proposed 23-story tower from Ft. Tryon Park. 4650 Broadway visibility study by Saratoga Associates

Proposed 23-story tower from Ft. Tryon Park. 4650 Broadway visibility study by Saratoga Associates

The Historic Districts Council chose Inwood as one of the Six to Celebrate neighborhoods in 2011 for its historical, architectural and environmental attributes. Nearly half of the land in Inwood is public park space which preserves natural terrain and geological features of Manhattan, as opposed to the designed landscapes of many parks in New York City. Thus, Inwood’s distinctive development pattern and architecture was created in relation to the original landscape of Manhattan Island.

One of Inwood and Washington Heights’ treasured historical resources is Fort Tryon Park, a 67-acre park which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of only ten Scenic Landmarks in all of New York City.  Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. the park’s landscape is unrivaled in its romantic views of the Hudson River, the Palisades, and its rich topography.

However, the super-tall development found in other parts of the city has arrived above 200th Street in Manhattan in this low-scale neighborhood. Ft. Tryon Park and the Inwood community is currently threatened by two rezonings which will irreversibly alter the experience of the park and the neighborhood at large.  The proposed rezoning for 4650 Broadway will be a 27-story building abutting the park, four times taller than the surrounding buildings’ heights. The other proposal, 4566 Broadway, would allow a 19-story development (increase in FAR from 3.44 to 9.96).

Click here to send a letter saying “NO” to spot-rezoning and require an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) of the cumulative impacts of these projects, and undertake a comprehensive plan to develop appropriately scaled development, similar to the City’s InwoodNYC plan immediately to the north.



Saturday, September 26, 2015

Scavenger Hunt starts at 2:00PM; Reception immediately following  at The Rambling House

Meet at the Work Gate, East 233rd Street between Katonah Avenue and Vireo Avenue (across from 329 E. 233rdStreet and one block west of Woodlawn’s main entrance at Webster Avenue)

Take the 2 train to 233rd Street or

Metro North to the Woodlawn stop- Only a half hour ride from Grand Central $13 round trip

                     $10 per team (up to 4 people per team)

Usher in the fall season by exploring one of New York City’s most famed cemeteries!

This fun-filled scavenger hunt of The Woodlawn Cemetery will celebrate some of this National Historic Landmark’s most famous residents, landscapes, and monuments, as well as the adjacent Woodlawn Heights neighborhood, one of the Historic Districts Council’s 2015 Six to Celebrate!

Choose from five themed trails in search of some of the cemetery’s most famous memorials and sites. Each trail covers 1.5 miles (no hills!) of the cemetery’s picturesque lanes, and will last roughly 60-90 minutes.

All you have to do is register your team (up to 4 people per team), either online or at check-in on the day of the event. Once your team is checked in, you will receive a starting time, then follow the clues for your Woodlawn adventure! The first team to finish on each trail will win a prize! All ages are welcome.

Join us after the hunt for prizes and refreshments at the Rambling House, a popular local pub in Woodlawn Heights!


TRAIL #1 Architecture: Search the cemetery for monuments and mausolea designed by New York’s great architects – McKim Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, and many more.

TRAIL #2 Trains: Find the spectacular mausolea of the infamous robber barons who built America’s railways.

TRAIL #3 Messages in Stone: Look for the beautiful carved flowers, butterflies, birds and trees that are featured on Woodlawn’s unusual monuments.

TRAIL #4 Faces of Woodlawn:  Discover the stories of some colorful New York characters as you locate their portraits in bronze, marble, and glass.

TRAIL #5 Great Glass:  Peep inside some of the great tombs to locate the wonderful windows that light up in the afternoon sunshine.


Established in 1863, the 400-acre Woodlawn Cemetery is the final resting place of many historic figures and has the largest and finest collection of funerary art in the nation. All proceeds will be donated to the Woodlawn Conservancy.


Sponsored by the Historic Districts Council, Woodlawn Conservancy, and Women of Woodlawn.

Artists evicted in TriBeCa for luxury condos

Dear friends: a bittersweet announcement.

I will be moving my studio next week. Things have been a bit quiet around here lately because I have been completely engaged in coordinating the details of finding a new space.

Our sweet, ancient time-out-of-time loft building on West Broadway was sold to developers earlier this year, and all the tenants received eviction notices in May. The new owners intend to demolish all of the buildings on West Broadway between Murray and Warren Streets to build luxury condominiums. The buildings along this stretch have been occupied for decades by dozens of artists and small businesses. This project is part of the irrevocably damaging trend of over development that’s sweeping through New York City right now, and it threatens, in particular, the historic character of the TriBeCa neighborhood where I’ve worked these last few years.

71 West Broadway has been such an incredible place to work. Old buildings have a magic to them that cannot be duplicated. To leave this space knowing that it will be destroyed is a deep heartache that I’ve been grappling with now for months. The light, the old wood, the absolutely frigid days in January, the camaraderie of the neighbors during this ordeal. I am so grateful for all of it.

I will be welcoming visitors this week, to the extent that I am able. If you’d like to come by, please get in touch.

I’m very fortunate to have found a beautiful new (light-filled!) studio in the Garment District through a friend of a friend, where you’ll be able to find me come September 1st, but I want to take this opportunity to start a dialogue about what’s happening to affordable creative space in New York City (and in cities all over the world), and to leave you with some resources, should you feel called to take action:

Lynn at TriBeCa Trust was one of the first people I spoke with about our situation, and she is valiantly fighting to expand historic district protection in TriBeCa (our building is only a few buildings away from the current protected district lines), you can learnmore about her work here, and be sure to sign the petition to protect TriBeCa.

The pioneering work of the Artist Studio Affordability Project is of great interest to me. They are organizing the art community to fight for affordable studio space in New York City.

The Queens Museum & Art F City hosted a conference called Stay in New York in June, and the livestream is available here.

And the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, an organization that is fighting for the neighborhood where I live, is also worthy of your support.

Also, as a side note, if you know of anyone living in an illegal loft conversion in the city, please make sure they know that the Loft Board registration reopened at the end of this last legislative session in June, and that they may now have the chance to be protected under NYC’s loft laws. More info here.

I love this city too much to stand by while it’s reduced to chain stores and glassy towers, and if affordable creative space is important to you or to those you love, I urge you to get involved, write your elected officials with your concerns, and above all, get to know your neighbors and your community and be truly present in the places where you live and work.

I will leave you with this passage from Jane Jacobs’ book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in her chapter entitled “The Need for Old Buildings:

“Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them. By old buildings I mean not museum-piece old buildings, not old buildings in an excellent and expensive state of rehabilitation–although these make fine ingredients–but also a good lot of plain, ordinary, low-value old buildings, including some rundown old buildings. 

If a city area has only new buildings, the enterprises that can exist there are automatically limited to those that can support the high costs of new construction. These high costs of occupying new buildings may be levied in the form of an owner’s interest and amortization payments on the capital costs of the construction. However the costs are paid off, they have to be paid off. And for this reason, enterprises that support the cost of new construction must be capable of paying a relatively high overhead–high in comparison to that necessarily required by old buildings. To support such high overheads, the enterprises must be either (a) high profit or (b) well subsidized. 

If you look about, you will see that only operations that are well established, high-turnover, standardized or heavily subsidized can afford, commonly, to carry the costs of new construction. Chain stores, chain restaurants and banks go into new construction. But neighborhood bars, foreign restaurants and pawn shops go into older buildings. . . . Well-subsidized opera and art museums often go into new buildings. But the unformalized feeders of the arts–studios, galleries, stores for musical instruments and art supplies, backrooms where the low earning power of a seat and a table can absorb uneconomic discussions–these go into old buildings. Perhaps more significant, hundreds of ordinary enterprises, necessary to the safety and public life of streets and neighborhoods, and appreciated for their convenience and personal quality, can make out successfully in old buildings, but are inexorably slain by the high overhead of new construction. 

As for really new ideas of any kind–no matter how ultimately profitable or otherwise successful some of them might prove to be–there is no leeway for such chancy trial, error and experimentation in the high-overhead economy of new construction. Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.”

This is from the  Analog Beauty blog

Crown Heights North Walking Tour Pictures

Crown Heights North Walking Tour

Saturday, June 20, 2015

South Street Seaport Tour Pictures

South Street Seaport Walking Tour
Thursday, June 18, 2015

Tour the Gardens During Historic Jackson Heights Weekend

It encompasses the country’s first planned garden and cooperative apartment community. It’s the birthplace of Scrabble. And it’s the setting for the TV show Ugly Betty.

It’s also the place to be on Saturday and Sunday, when the Jackson Heights Beautification Group celebrates the 25th annual Historic Jackson Heights Weekend.

On Saturday, the fun kicks off with an exhibition of vintage photographs and memorabilia at theCommunity United Methodist Church. At 10:45 am and 12:15 am, there will be slide presentations on the neighborhood’s history. Then, a self-guided garden tour (using maps provided upon ticket purchase) will allow participants to visit at least 15 private gardens. These block-long, park-like gardens are only open to the public one day a year.

On Sunday at noon, guides will take walkers through the historic district, highlighting the apartments, private homes, and commercial and civic buildings that distinguish Jackson Heights.

Details: Historic Jackson Heights Weekend, Community United Methodist Church, 81-10 35th Street, Jackson Heights. June 13, slide lectures at 10:45 am and 12:15 am, free; garden tours from noon to 4 pm, $10. June 14, tour at noon, $10. Click here for ticket information.

Photo by Jackson Heights Beautification Group

Long Island City Walking Tour

Long Island City
Tuesday, June 30 at 6:00PM:

ClockTower_29-27_Queens_Plaza_NorthJoin us for a tour of the ever-changing Queens Plaza in Long Island City, where 350 years of history exhibit New York City’s cutting-edge spirit. From the Dutch Kills Green millstones to Sunnyside Yards, from loft buildings to new towers and tech industry, the area is both dynamic and connected to its past. Queens Plaza opened in 1909 to accommodate the connection of the Queensboro Bridge to Queens, and once served as the borough’s transportation hub and financial and business center. While major redevelopment plans are underway in Queens Plaza, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has just designated its most beloved architectural jewel, the former Bank of Manhattan Building, affectionately known as the “Clock Tower,” as the city’s newest Individual Landmark. Historian and Greater Astoria Historical Society trustee Richard Melnick will lead us on a walk around Queens Plaza to learn about its history and plans for its future.


To register for this and other walking tours click here

South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport Walking Tour

South Street Seaport
Thursday, June 18 at 6:00PM: 
As the nation’s most important port for over 100 DSC_0221 ACyears, the South Street Seaport, through its historic buildings, harbor views and tall ships, provides an important link to New York City’s fascinating and multi-layered origin story. As Manhattan’s oldest intact neighborhood, the Seaport derives its distinct sense of place from its 200-year old mercantile buildings, Belgian block paving and views of the Brooklyn Bridge. For many generations, it has been a destination for those with a passion for history. With major development pressures threatening to irreversibly and insensitively distort its character, advocates are working hard to protect this unique district. Join us as urban historian and author Francis Morrone illuminates the early history of the Seaport, its evolution over time and proposed plans for its future.

To register for this and other tours click here