Shortly after John and Jackie Kennedy moved into the White House in 1961, Jackie made it her mission to restore her new home to its former history and grandeur. The White House restoration project was more than a mere redecoration; it was an act of historic preservation, ensuring that the rooms would be protected from any drastic alterations in the future. Jackie O’s restoration project sparked a lifelong interest in historic preservation. When she moved to New York City full time, after the death of her second husband, Aristotle Onassis, she became a member of the Municipal Art Society’s board of directors. She fought to protect important city landmarks such as Grand Central Station, which faced demolition in 1975, and St. Bartholomew’s Church.
In 1987, Jackie O lent her support to the designation of the Riverside/West End Historic District on the Upper West Side. In her letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), she wrote: “Your designation of [the district] will provide future generations of New Yorkers the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this remarkably intact piece of our past, just as we enjoy it today.” Now, Landmark West! (LW), a nonprofit organization that seeks to achieve landmark status for individual buildings and historic districts on the Upper West Side, hopes to add two extensions to the Riverside/West End Historic District. The extensions have yet to be designated by the LPC, and Landmark West! urges New Yorkers lend their support by signing LW’s petition.
Our slideshow features an excerpt from Jackie O’s original letter to the LPC, courtesy of Landmark West!, as well as vintage photos of Jackie during her time on the Board of Directors for the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS).