This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law, passed in 1965. Tonight on channel Thirteen, the documentary “Treasures of New York: The Landmarks Preservation Movement” will air at 7pm (repeated February 8th at 8pm on WLIW21). In a media-only screening, we learn that the documentary covers the range of landmarks in the city, from obvious like Brooklyn Bridge, Trinity Church and Central Park) to the less obvious, like Patchin Place in Greenwich Village, with the last 19th century lamppost.


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The Long Island City Clocktower building, also known as the Bank of Manhattan building, is under threat of demolition following a recent sale. In spite of its recognizable stature in Long Island City, the building is not landmarked, despite its historical significance. The Bank of Manhattan building was built in 1924, the first skyscraper in Long Island City and the tallest building in the borough. The Long Island Star Journal proclaimed that it would make Bridge Plaza, then a gardened promenade in the City Beautiful style, “the new Times Square of Queens.” The Bank of Manhattan itself was founded by Aaron Burr originally as the city’s first water delivery service. Those operations were old to the city in the 1808 as the banking side of the company became more profitable.


NYC Metropolitan Opera House 1966 Ceiling Decoration Vintage Photography Sabrina Romano Untapped Cities
Ceiling decoration, 1966. Image via The Library of Congress

Most would find it surprising that The Metropolitan Opera Management sued to have their own opera house razed but that is exactly what happened in the mid-1960s. The Metropolitan Opera Association already had plans to relocate to Lincoln Center and they feared the competition that might arise if a new opera company took over the existing Metropolitan Opera House.

Part of the reason the association wanted to relocate was because of the opera house’s plain, and what some called ugly, exterior. The opera house, done in the Italian Renaissance style, was even dubbed a “third-rate warehouse.” What the exterior did not hint of was the building’s lavish interior. The group of wealthy New Yorkers designed the inside to be more extravagant than the competition, the Academy of Music.


The Rose Center's great cube is made of water white glass, which lacks the usual greenish tint. The Rose Center’s great cube is made of water white glass, which lacks the usual greenish tint.

Architect James Polshek has written his memoir, Build/Memory (Monacelli Press), with all the substance, drive, and élan that made him famous in the first place. His buildings aren’t just structures standing quietly, waiting for something to happen. Instead, they live vigorously in their neighborhoods, engaging with their surroundings and landscape, changing with the light, evolving with the seasons. While you may not have heard of his name yet, you’ll definitely recognize some of his buildings, like the Brooklyn Museum and the Rose Center for Earth & Space at the American Museum of Natural History. Here are some of his favorites—and ours.  (more…)

Prince George Ballroom-Grammercy Flatiron-Untapped Cities-Ben Helmer-8727

There aren’t many buildings left in New York like The Prince George that have maintained their luxurious historical roots once financial woes or disrepair became overwhelming. While many of these former architectural wonders have been reduced to faded and forgotten photographs or grainy film stock, some spaces are so sacred and awe-inspiring that outside organizations will do everything in their power to return them to their former brilliance.  (more…)

1-Untapped Cities Map Preservation NYC Curbed Screen Shot I

From the recently demolished Pan Am Terminal at JFK to the current fight to save the storied Rizzoli Bookstore in Midtown, struggles for preservation continue to wage on in New York City. Often a fight for landmark status, these battles pit developers against historians and preservationists to save sights important to the city’s history.

Curbed NY recently published a map of the 10 current most intense struggles for preservation in NYC, including many we have covered. These range from the struggle to save the Picasso Tapestry in the Four Seasons to the recent discussion by city’s Park Department on the state of the World Pavilion from the ’64 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows. Also included are the Apthorp on the Upper West Side and Central Park. (more…)