At public meetings held November 22, 2016 and December 6, 2016, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) unanimously granted landmark status to 12 iconic historic buildings in Greater East Midtown. The properties were identified through the agency’s Greater East Midtown Initiative and their protection is part of the administration’s multi-agency effort to plan for the future of one of New York City’s most dynamic neighborhoods.
In 2015, LPC presented its conceptual framework to the East Midtown Steering Committee, which was established by Mayor de Blasio in May 2014. 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 enhance its economic competitiveness, public spaces, transit facilities and historic resources. In its final report, the Steering Committee determined that LPC should calendar and designate as landmarks as many historic resources as it deems appropriate.
At a public meeting on May 10, 2016, the agency identified 12 buildings that merit designation and contribute to the rich historical and architectural context of the area. The Commission held public hearings for the properties on July 19, 2016 and September 13, 2016.
The Commission surveyed East Midtown numerous times from 1966-2013, and had already designated 38 individual landmarks and one historic district in the area. The designation of the additional 12 properties brings to 50 the number of individual landmarks designated in this area, and ensures that the development history of this important neighborhood will be preserved.
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 consisted of East 39th to East 57th Streets, from Fifth Avenue to Second Avenue. After extensive research, LPC identified properties from three key eras central to the development of the neighborhood, and which complemented 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 are a complement to 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/World War II Era:
The Commission identified the former Citicorp Tower at 601 Lexington Avenue as representative of the Post-Grand Central. 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 the youngest New York City Landmark. The building joins eight designated sites associated with this era.