Expansion of Upper West Side district debated

Large expansion of Riverside/West End Historic District would encompass 338 buildings. On October 25, 2011, Landmarks heard testimony on the proposed Riverside/West End Historic District Extension II. The district would abut the northern end of the original Riverside/West End Historic District and include 338 buildings between West 109th and 89th Streets and Broadway and Riverside Drive. A handful of buildings along the west side of Broadway between 89th and 94th Streets would also be included in the extension.

The proposed district was calendared in November 2010 along with the Riverside/West End Historic District Extension I, which was the subject of a Landmarks hearing in March 2011, and the West End Collegiate Historic District Extension. 8 CityLand 45 (April 15, 2011).

The area encompassing the proposed district was developed between the late 1880s and 1920s. The first wave of development consisted primarily of three and four story row houses. After the opening of the Broadway subway line in 1904, larger apartment buildings were constructed in the area, as well as French Flat-style apartment buildings. The neighborhood saw the construction of high-rise apartment buildings in the years following World War I, with setbacks mandated by the 1916 zoning resolution. According to Landmarks, except for a small number of modestly scaled residential and institutional buildings, new construction in the area essentially ended after 1929. 

At the hearing, elected officials who supported the designation included State Senator Adriano Espaillat and representatives of Council Member Inez Dickens, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal. Rosenthal’s representative said that designation would protect the neighborhood from the threat of inappropriate construction. Residents and preservationists concurred. Richard Emery, co-founder of the West End Preservation Society claimed the community favored designation.

In opposition, the Real Estate Board of New York’s Carol Van Guilder testified that the district, along with the other two proposed district extensions, were too expansive and contiguous and was an inappropriately “broad brush approach” to preservation. Van Guilder recommended removing from the district all the buildings along the west side of Broadway, and she asked Landmarks to reconsider the boundaries of all three proposed Upper West Side extensions. One resident who opposed the district argued against extending the district above 96th Street, claiming that the extension’s largely elderly and white proponents did not represent the area’s demographics.

Landmarks did not set a date for a vote on designation. LPC: Riverside-West End Historic District Extension II, Manhattan (LP-2464) (Oct. 25, 2011).

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