FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
LANDMARKS COMMISSION PRESENTS PROPOSAL FOR GREATER EAST MIDTOWN
Commission Identifies 12 Potential Landmarks in the East Midtown Section of Manhattan, Including the Yale Club, Citicorp Center, and the Graybar Building
(New York, NY)- The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) today launched a proposal to protect additional historic resources in Greater East Midtown. At a public meeting, the agency identified 12 buildings that merit designation and contribute to the rich historical and architectural context of the area, including the Minnie E. Young Residence, the Graybar Building, the Yale Club, and Citicorp Center. Five of the properties proposed for designation were calendared by the Commission in 2013, and the remaining seven were calendared at today’s public meeting. The proposal is part of the administration’s larger effort to plan for the future of one of New York City’s most dynamic neighborhoods.
Last year, LPC presented its conceptual framework to the East Midtown Steering Committee, which was established by Mayor de Blasio in May 2014 as part of a multi-part strategy to strengthen East Midtown as a world-class 21st Century commercial district. The Steering Committee, Co-Chaired by Council Member Daniel Garodnick and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, engaged a broad range of stakeholders to identify long-term goals for the neighborhood and to develop a planning framework to address issues such as density, sustainability, and historic preservation. In its final report, the Steering Committee determined that LPC should calendar and designate as landmarks as many historic resources as it deems appropriate.
The agency has surveyed East Midtown numerous times from 1966-2013, and has already designated 38 individual landmarks and one historic district in the area. The designation of the 12 calendared properties would bring to 50 the number of individual landmarks designated in this area, ensuring that the development history of this important neighborhood is preserved.
“Greater East Midtown has always been the commercial center of New York, and its authenticity and dynamism largely derive from the textured coexistence of historic buildings and new construction,” said Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. “The area will undoubtedly change, as it has in the past, to remain competitive and at the forefront of the global economy. Our challenge was to conceptualize a preservation strategy to protect a collection of significant buildings that, together, establish a historical narrative that will continue to be legible amidst future change. The agency developed a comprehensive approach to studying this area, resulting in the recommendation of 12 very worthy historic buildings for designation, which will complement the existing 38 individual landmarks. This administration is committed to advancing these calendared properties towards a designation vote this year.”
“Protecting and preserving East Midtown’s landmarks was a key goal of the East Midtown plan we developed,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I appreciate the attention the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s staff has given to the East Midtown Steering Committee’s recommendations, and I urge the commissioners to recognize the architectural and historic merits of these 12 worthy sites.”
"I always felt that it was important for the Landmarks Commission to do a complete review of the historic resources in East Midtown before we executed a rezoning plan," said Council Member Dan Garodnick. "This took an enormous amount of time and effort, and we appreciate that they are presenting a thoughtful package for consideration."
The agency undertook its comprehensive Greater East Midtown study with the goal of preserving the neighborhood’s development history through individual designations. The study area consists of East 39th to East 57th Streets, from Fifth Avenue to Second Avenue. After extensive research, the agency identified properties from three key eras central to the development of the neighborhood, and which complement existing designations: Pre-Grand Central Terminal (residential and institutional development through the 1910s); Grand Central/Terminal City (buildings constructed in Terminal City or that were spurred by transit improvements); and Post Grand Central (buildings constructed after 1933).
Pre-Grand Central Terminal Era:
Commissioners voted to calendar the Minnie E. Young Residence at 19 East 54th Street and the Martin Erdmann Residence at 57 East 57th Street. These houses represent the period prior to the construction of Grand Central Terminal, when the area around Fifth Avenue in East Midtown was a prestigious residential enclave. The Commission has already designated numerous sites associated with this era, including Villard Houses, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Plant House.
Grand Central/Terminal City Era:
Grand Central/Terminal City Era buildings were spurred by transit improvements, such as the elimination of steam locomotives in the early 1900s and the construction of Grand Central Terminal. The agency identified nine buildings from this era, including six skyscrapers and three hotels: 18 East 41st Street Building, the Hampton Shops Building at 18-20 East 50th Street, the Yale Club of New York at 50 Vanderbilt Avenue, the Pershing Square Building(previously calendared) at 125 Park Avenue, the Graybar Building (previously calendared) at 420 Lexington Avenue, 400 Madison Avenue, the Shelton Hotel (previously calendared), the Beverly Hotel (previously calendared), and Hotel Lexington (previously calendared). Five of these nine buildings were calendared in 2013, in conjunction with the previous East Midtown rezoning. These buildings complement the 17 existing designations associated with the Grand Central Era, including Grand Central Station, the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Bowery Savings Bank, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Post-Grand Central Era:
The Commission identified the former Citicorp Tower at 601 Lexington Avenue as representative of the Post-Grand Central Era. The building complements the landmarked Lever House and Seagram Building, which represent the International Style of architecture from the 1950s. If designated, the former Citicorp Tower would be first landmark tower from the 1970s and the youngest New York City Landmark. The building joins eight designated sites associated with this era.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the mayoral agency responsible for protecting and preserving New York City's architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites. Since its creation in 1965, LPC has granted landmark status to more than 34,000 buildings and sites, including 1360 individual landmarks, 117 interior landmarks, 10 scenic landmarks, and 139 historic districts and extensions in all five boroughs. Under the City's landmarks law, considered among the most powerful in the nation, the Commission must be comprised of at least three architects, a historian, a realtor, a planner or landscape architect, as well as a representative of each borough.