FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, September 25, 2017
LPC AND NYLPF UNVEIL MOUNT MORRIS PARK HISTORIC DISTRICT EXTENSION MARKER
(New York, NY) – The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission today unveiled a historic district marker that will serve to promote and commemorate the history of the Mount Morris Park Historic District Extension. Landmarks Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan was joined by New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation Chair Christina Davis, New York State Senator Brian Benjamin, New York City Council Member Bill Perkins, the Morris Park Community Improvement Association and Manhattan Community Board 10 to celebrate the installation of the marker, located mid-block between Lenox Avenue and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard on 120th street, which will feature a map and history of the district.
"Landmark designation not only preserves New York’s historic buildings and streets, but also highlights our rich and diverse history, and the social and cultural influences of our different communities. With this historic marker we will signal to all the importance of Mount Morris Park to the heritage of New York," said LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. "I would like to thank Christina Davis, Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Foundation, for shepherding the Historic Street Signs and Marker program in support of the Commissions designations, in addition to our local elected officials, Community Board 10, and the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association for their enthusiasm and advocacy."
"The Historic District Marker program is one of the most important outreach activities of the Landmarks Preservation Foundation," said NYLPF Chair Christina Davis.
The NYLPF supports work that relates to the designation of New York Landmarks, including the well-recognized bronze plaque program for individual landmarks, street sign program, and historic district marker program.
Designated in a unanimous vote by the Commission in 2015, the Mount Morris Park Historic District Extension includes more than 250 row houses in Harlem. Reflecting the community’s development as an affluent residential neighborhood around the 1880s, the buildings within the extension area display architectural styles popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These styles are similar to those found in the Mount Morris Park Historic District, designated in 1971 and adjacent to the extension.
"Today we got to preserve a part of Harlem's character and history for our community. As our city changes around us, I'm glad organizations like the NYPLF and LPC can be partners in the fight for our neighborhoods," said Senator Brian Benjamin.
"The Mount Morris Park Historic District Marker helps bring attention to community treasures and the importance of their preservation. Awareness and education are among the best ways to guarantee the preservation of our community’s history. This designation is a tool that will increase public awareness of our important cultural resources," remarked Council Member Bill Perkins.
"It is very important to the community that Harlem retains its culture through its art, architecture and people. As the world around us changes, we are proud to know that, as an organization we were able to retain a bit of Harlem’s history by preserving its most treasured landscape," said Syderia Asberry-Chresfield, President of the Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association.
Today, many of the row houses in the Mount Morris Park Historic District Extension retain a high degree of integrity, as do those within the original district boundaries. Houses in these areas were mainly built as single-family dwellings and originally occupied by prosperous middle-class households. By the turn of the twentieth century, however, a less-affluent population consisting mostly of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe began to populate the area.
By the 1920s the area began to attract a large African-American population, becoming an important part of Harlem and home to a number of prominent black residents and institutions including the Honorable James Watson, one of the first American-Americans elected to judicial office and later president of the Municipal Civil Service Commission, and the Harlem Dance Foundation, established by Olive Adams to provide a local performance space, art gallery, and cultural library, among other services. Today, Mount Morris remains one of New York City’s most vibrant African-American communities.
The newly installed marker for the Mount Morris Historic District Extension reads:
The Mount Morris Park Historic District Extension was designated in 2015 and lies adjacent to the Mount Morris Park Historic District, which was designated in 1971. Located beside Mount Morris Park, now Marcus Garvey Park, the historic district developed into a residential neighborhood after the extension of elevated railways to Harlem in 1880. Many of the row houses, which were built in the last two decades of the 19th century, were faced with brick and brownstone and reflect the growing popularity of the neo-Grec, Romanesque Revival, and neoRenaissance styles. Early neighborhood residents were Protestants and German Jews. After 1920, Harlem became one of America’s leading African American communities, and Mount Morris Park became home to many prominent black residents. Today, this area remains one of New York City’s most vibrant neighborhoods, notable for its architectural beauty, its historic streetscapes, and strong sense of place.
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 36,000 buildings and sites, including 1398 individual landmarks, 120 interior landmarks, 10 scenic landmarks, and 141 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.