Bedford-Stuyvesant historic district considered

New district would include 825 buildings primarily built at the turn of the 20th century. On August 2, 2011, Landmarks heard testimony on the proposed Bedford-Stuyvesant/ Expanded Stuyvesant Heights Historic District in Brooklyn. The proposed district is generally bounded by Halsey and Macon Streets to the north, Fulton Street to the south, Malcolm X Boulevard to the east, and Tompkins Avenue to the west, and would surround the 1971-designated Stuyvesant Heights Historic District. The new district would encompass 825 buildings that were primarily developed between 1880 and 1910. The district is primarily characterized by rowhouses and small apartment buildings, with attendant commercial structures and institutional buildings. The buildings represent several architectural styles including Romanesque Revival, Renaissance Revival, and Neo Grec.

The earliest extant buildings in the neighborhood are wood-framed houses dating to the mid-19th century that are thought to have been occupied by freed slaves. Arrivals from New England, as well as German and Irish immigrants, moved to the area in the late 19th century. After the first World War, African Americans and ethnic groups facing discrimination in Manhattan began moving into Bedford- Stuyvesant. The neighborhood became a residential counterpoint to Harlem, the center of black cultural life in the City.

Landmarks initially considered the proposed district in the early 1990s. It held a public hearing in September 1993, but no action was taken. 

At the August hearing, elected officials, preservationists, and residents expressed support for the district. Local City Council Member Albert Vann and Assembly Member Annette Robinson testified in support, as did representatives of State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Representatives of the Historic Districts Council, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and the Victorian Society in America, urged Landmarks to designate the district.

Local resident Doug Davis believed that landmarking would create appropriate guidelines to prevent the development of substandard, shoddy buildings in the neighborhood. Henry Rock, president of Bainbridge Homeowners and Tenants Block Association, expressed hope that landmarking would give the community leverage to ensure the former Holy Rosary Catholic School at 180 Bainbridge would be redeveloped in a way that retained its architectural integrity.

Chair Robert B. Tierney closed the hearing and did not set a date to vote on designation.

LPC: Bedford Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights Historic District, Brooklyn (LP-2496) (Aug. 8, 2011).

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