157-Building District South of Washington Square Park Enters Designation Process


Image Credit: LPC

Originally developed as a residential rowhouse neighborhood, district grew to a mixed-use working class community in the early 20th century. At its meeting on November 1, 2016, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to add the Sullivan-Thompson Historic District to its calendar, formally commencing the designation process. The proposed district is composed of approximately 157 buildings south of Washington Square Park and east of Seventh Avenue. It would adjoin the existing SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District to the east, and the Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District at its northwest corner.

The first wave of development in the area took place in the early 19th century when it was built as a residential rowhouse neighborhood. Between the Civil War and the First World War, the area underwent a second period of development which saw the construction of tenement buildings, lofts, and a few institutional structures, including the Church of Saint Anthony of Padua and an associated school.The post-Civil War development largely served a working class immigrant population. Following revelations of the dire living conditions in many tenements, a succession of laws were passed intended to alleviate immigrants’ quality of life, changing how tenements were built. The proposed district is host to pre-law, old-law, new-law, and reform tenement buildings. The tenement buildings display a variety of styles, including Italianate, neo-Grec, Queen Anne, and Renaissance Revival. The rowhouses of the district are primarily Federal or Greek Revival in style.

Landmarks’ Research Department also identified the prevalence of historic storefronts, added to the ground floor of rowhouses, or built as part of tenement buildings, as a unifying characteristic of the district.

The proposed district and its boundaries were identified through a survey undertaken by Landmarks in response to requests by community members.

Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said that for some years she had lived in and near the neighborhood, which she called “a fascinating enclave,” possessing a recognizable and coherent sense of place distinct from nearby districts. Srinivasan further stated the Research Department had presented a “compelling and persuasive basis” for the neighborhood’s consideration as a historic district, and led a unanimous vote to add the proposed district to the Commission’s calendar.

Srinivasan set a public hearing date of November 29, 2016.

LPC: Sullivan-Thompson Historic District, Manhattan (LP-2590) (Nov. 1, 2016).

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