Landmarks Votes to Designate Two Historic Districts in Cambria Heights

The houses along the Cambria Heights-227th Street Historic District. Image Credit: LPC.

The historic districts are the first designations from Landmarks in Cambria Heights. On June 28, 2022, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate Cambria Heights-222nd Street Historic District and Cambria Heights-227th Street Historic District. For CityLand’s prior coverage on the September 14, 2021 hearing regarding these two Historic Districts, click here.

These districts together contain 96 row houses facing each other along two blocks in Cambria Heights, Queens. They were built in 1931 and contain intact and cohesive storybook-style houses which incorporate Tudor-style elements. Both rows of houses are rooted in English Garden City concepts and have common rear driveways behind the houses to allow for uninterrupted front lawns. These front lawns, combined with the style of the houses, evokes a fairytale-like image in the eyes of those who view them.

Cambria Heights-222nd Street Historic District contains 46 row houses between 115th Road and 116th Avenue. It was developed by Selective Homes Incorporated and designed by Monda & Bertolazzi. Storybook features here include: Tudor arched window openings, brightly colored terracotta roofs and windows, brick facades with freely mixed and randomly applied stone accents, and whimsically decorated chimneys with patterned bricks and decorated with large stucco fields.

Houses along 222nd Street in the Cambria Heights-222nd Street Historic District. Image Credit: Google Maps.

Cambria Heights-227th Street Historic District contains 50 row houses between 116th Avenue and Linden Boulevard. It was developed by Wolosoff Brothers. Storybook features here include: vertically bowed and stretched entrance vestibules with flared roofs, path timbering, diamond-paned windows, whimsical red, blue, and green slate shingles with ragged edges, artificially aged facades with random groupings of bricks, and picturesque stucco chimneys with randomly laid brick and stone accents.

While the initial residents of Cambria Heights were white middle-class families, Black families began to move to Cambria Heights during the 1950s, facing discrimination in the process. By the 1980s, immigrant families from several Caribbean countries moved to the area. Today, Cambria Heights continues to be a predominately Black residential community, and the homes within the historic districts are beautifully preserved examples of their architectural features.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to designate both historic districts.

Mayor Eric Adams stated, “For decades upon decades, the opportunity to own a home and build wealth was denied to Black families, immigrant families, and other families of color in this country. By designating these historic districts, we are stating clearly that those opportunities must be available to everyone in our city and our country. These homes are significant not only because of their appearance but also because of what they represent to the communities who felt that in Cambria Heights and Southeast Queens, the American Dream was within reach. This is what our city and my administration are about.””

Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll stated, “The designation of these two historic districts, the first in Cambria Heights, was a priority for me and fits within LPC’s equity framework, as we seek to increase designations in communities not well represented by landmarks, and to better tell the story of all New Yorkers. A predominantly African American and Afro-Caribbean community, Cambria Heights had no designated landmarks or districts. Both the 222nd Street and 227th Street Historic Districts clearly stand out within their larger neighborhood for their striking architecture and their highly intact historic character.”

Council Member Nantasha Williams stated, “This was a project that was started by my predecessor, Council Member I. Daneek Miller and I am excited to see it come to fruition and have another neighborhood in my community designated as a historic district. he 27th Council District is full of rich history and this neighborhood in Cambria Heights captures a unique architectural design not commonly found. I would like to thank and commend the Landmarks Preservation Commission for their work on increasing landmark designations in communities of color and their outreach on this project.”

By: Malka Amar (Malka is a CityLaw intern and New York Law School student, Class of 2023.)

LPC: Cambria Heights-222nd Street Historic District, Cambria Heights-227th Street Historic District (LP-2655, LP-2656 June 28, 2022).


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