On January 8th in the Big Apple Greeter conference room, our Greeter Tom Keating gave an engrossing slide show about the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Keating always finds subjects that thrill anyone who is obsessive about New York. He does intensive research and then brings it to life with the perfect picture: either from his own camera or from another photographer’s work.
He started by giving a brief history of the first Penn Station, built in 1910 in the Beaux Arts style and designed by McKin, Meade and White. In 1963, the city planning commission demolished the grand railroad station. Because it was so huge, its upkeep was too expensive.
This was the catalyst that led to the creation of the Landmarks Commission in 1965. The station was considered an architectural masterpiece, so widespread outrage followed – among architects as well as the general public.
Since 1965, there are 23,000 Landmarks in New York City. They can be anything from entire buildings to interiors of buildings, from historic districts to row houses. In order to get Landmarked, they must have the following requirements:
- Historic Interest
- Aesthetic interest
- Some sort of special character
- Must be at least 30 years old
Tom presented examples of Landmarked places. The main Post Office at 8th Avenue and 33rd Street, built in 1912 In the Beaux Arts style and designed by the same architects who created Penn Station. Another example was Fraunces Tavern on Pearl Street, built in 1719 in the Colonial Revival style.
Tom shared a delicious tidbit, not about Landmarks, but about buildings. It came from the book, Tenements, Towers and Trash by Julia Wertz. It seems the owners of P.J. Clarke’s restaurant located in a small mid-19th century building at 55th Street and 3rd Avenue, didn’t want to sell to developers. So the developers, not used to taking “no” for answer, built a 47-story office building looming over the holdout!
In our Big Apple Greeter family, Tom Keating has earned a Landmark status of his own.