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ZippyTheChimp
January 11th, 2005, 09:02 AM
http://www.newyorker.com/

January 11, 2005

DEPT. OF INQUIRY

STUMPED NEW YORK

by Rebecca Mead

Issue of 2005-01-17

The New-York Historical Society celebrates its two hundredth anniversary this year, having survived, in recent decades, the threat of bankruptcy and the selling off of part of its collections. In spite of these reversals, demand has not slackened for at least one of the society’s public services: that of providing answers to arcane questions about New York City to which even the powers of Google have failed to come up with an adequate response.

The questions fielded by the Historical Society’s team of three librarians, and the answers gleaned from the society’s collection of two million manuscripts, three hundred and fifty thousand books and pamphlets, and fifteen thousand maps and atlases, are the stuff of dinner-table pontification and barroom bets. In which apartment at 55 West Eighth Street did Jimi Hendrix live? (Unanswerable, unfortunately, without rental records.) How do you pronounce Coenties Slip? (The library doesn’t have a definitive answer, though it does possess a card file with a reference to a letter from 1915 in which the writer asserts, “I have recently obtained confirmation of the pronunciation ‘Quinches,’ as being the correct New York-Dutch version.”) Did Robert Moses interfere with the plans to build the Guggenheim Museum? (This one asked, presumably, by the one New Yorker who doesn’t have a copy of Robert A. Caro’s “The Power Broker” on his or her bookshelf.)

The most commonly asked question is about the origin of the term “the Big Apple.” (It seems to have started with African-American stable-hands in New Orleans in the nineteen-twenties; an earlier usage of the term, in a 1909 collection of vignettes called “The Wayfarer in New York,” is, according to the Historical Society’s official line, a red herring.) The second most commonly asked question is why the name “New-York Historical Society” has a hyphen. That’s the original spelling of New York, apparently, established long before anyone thought of applying fruit metaphors to the city.

The librarians are often asked to identify ancient-looking objects that were made in New York and whose purpose has become obscure. Mariam Touba, a reference librarian, was once presented with a picture of an implement comprising a narrow copper basin fitted with several small pulleys, dredged up from the galleys of the wreck of the Empress of Ireland, a steamship that sank in the St. Lawrence River in 1914. She determined that it had been an egg-boiling device equipped with an automatic timer—an implement entirely ready, you might think, for revival by Restoration Hardware. One of the more peculiar populations of visitors to the reading room, according to Nina Nazionale, the library’s interim director, are treasure-hunting divers, who are extremely cagey about the ends to which their research will be put. “They want the Hussar file,” Nazionale said, referring to a Revolutionary War-era pay ship that sank in 1780 at Hell Gate, in the East River, and has never been recovered, despite the file’s showing considerable signs of wear.

The release of New York-centric movies usually prompts a spate of related inquiries. After “Gangs of New York” came out, the society’s librarians became, of necessity, instant experts in the history of Five Points. A similar barrage of questions will likely be generated by the remake of “King Kong,” which is being directed by Peter Jackson, the maestro of the “Lord of the Rings” movies. The film’s researchers have already been to the Historical Society, seeking plans of the façades of every building along the stretch of Fifth Avenue to be featured in the movie, a request that Nazionale suggested might be best fulfilled at the Municipal Archives, where copies of such photographs can be ordered for forty dollars apiece. “The researcher said, ‘Forty dollars is expensive,’” Nazionale said. Should anyone call to ask the name of the stingiest producers ever to film in New York City, now she has an answer.


New-York Historical Society (http://www.nyhistory.org/)

170 Central Park West - across the street from the American Museum of Natural History.

Current exhibit: Alexander Hamilton, wo was born Jan 11, 1757 in the West Indies.

Hof
February 26th, 2005, 02:45 PM
...I was in NYC,a tourist,about 7 months after 9/11.
It was raining,a perfect Museum Day,and my son and I had an afternoon to kill,so we took a train to the West Side.There were large crowds of schoolkids at the Natural History Museum,our original destination.Rather than brave a floodtide of damp,squealy pre-adolescents,we ducked into the almost-empty New-York Historical Society,and found,unexpectedly,a huge display about the Trade Center in the First floor gallery.Some of it was artifacts gleaned from the still smoking wreckage Downtown.
The history of the buildings--including original plans,interactive construction photos and 10-foot tall architect's models--was well represented in exhausting detail in the Main Gallery,as was the demolition of Radio Row,the construction of the "bathtub",the ladders of steel rising,BPC growing out of the Hudson,the whole area knitted into Manhattan's fabric.Very Historical.
Moving through the timelined display,a series of photos showed the arrival of the airplanes from a blue September sky.
The flash of the blast,the smoking skyscrapers,the crumbling architecture and the jumbled aftermath was spread out along thirty feet of wall.
There were hopeful preliminary drawings of the New,Improved,Replacement WTC,dozens of them that came on loan from the Max Planck Gallery in SOHO.Wishbooks,mostly,but some I remember were quite close to the final,evolved plans.(About a year later,I saw the same exhibition at the National Building Museum in D.C. Deja-vu.).
Then I turned a corner into the Eastern gallery and got a facefull of "The Smell",the dank,metallic putresence that so violated the air in Lower Manhattan for months after the Towers fell.I hadn't been to Ground Zero yet,so to me it was a new odor,triggering nothing remotely familiar from my "smell memory".
The gallery along CPW was filled with artifacts--sheaves of edge-burnt paper blasted out of some office,a heartbreaking wall of photos of The Missing,a fireman's melted,dusty mask--packed with a lot of stuff,like memorials from Union Square,random things picked up off Lower Broadway,a chunk of twisted South Tower aluminum skin holding an unbroken window,etc,many of them still coated with layers of WTC dust.The Smell permeated the room,becoming an artifact all it's own.
It was a deeply reflective collection of things 9/11,and it touched me profoundly.I felt all the things I'd tried to avoid boil up--anger,sadness,bewilderment,horror,loss--simultaneously.The Springtime greens of Central Park filled the tall windows with an abrupt,peaceful counterpoint.I longed to be there,not here,longed for rainy,green smells to wash away the odor of grey,dusty death.
It will dominate my smell memories forever.
We went upstairs,visited dozens of rooms filled with amazing displays of New York History and burned off the rest of the day avoiding the Downstairs displays.
It was probably the most emotional moment I've ever had at a museum.My son had the same feelings I did.
I go back each time I visit NY.Always,the current displays are interesting,but none could ever match the impact that the WTC display provoked.The Smell is gone but the memory remains and the East Room still breaks my heart.
They also have a hell of a Museum Gift Shop/Bookstore,with lots of New York stuff you can't find anywhere else.
You should visit.Support this Museum.

pianoman11686
November 1st, 2006, 12:24 AM
New Historical Society Project Would Stir Up Skyline, and Residents

By GLENN COLLINS
Published: November 1, 2006

The New-York Historical Society wants to begin a $20 million renovation of its landmark building at 170 Central Park West that would also allow a developer to build a 23-story glass apartment tower behind the society’s museum and library, altering the skyline.

The society has approached the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which must approve changes to the exterior of the society’s austere neoclassical palazzo between 76th and 77th Streets, across from the American Museum of Natural History.

The society is seeking a developer who would provide financing and construct not only the apartment tower and an extra floor atop its four-story building, but also a five-story annex that would rise above an adjacent empty lot it owns at 7-13 West 76th Street.

Louise Mirrer, the society’s president, said the proposal would symbolize the institution’s new public face, provide needed space and buttress its long-term solvency. The society has received $10 million toward the renovation from the Empire State Development Corporation, the New York City Council and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and plans to raise the rest, she said.

But neighborhood opposition has foiled the society’s planned expansions in the past, including a 1984 proposal for a much broader 23-story apartment tower of limestone and granite, designed by the architect Hugh Hardy. The landmarks commission voted it down.

Other projects near Central Park have been encountering stiff resistance. Directly across the park, some East Side residents are fighting the construction of a 30-story glass apartment tower designed by the architect Norman Foster atop 980 Madison Avenue at 76th Street. And the Whitney Museum of American Art on East 75th Street has apparently decided to move a long-planned addition downtown after an acrimonious community battle.

The society’s plan is likely to get close scrutiny from residents and preservationists.

“I think there will be great concern in our building,” said Peter M. Wright, a marketing consultant who is on the board of the cooperative adjacent to the society at 6-16 West 77th Street.

The journalist Bill Moyers, who has lived a block away on Central Park West for 25 years, said: “We would support the renovation of the existing building, but everyone should object to a tower that would be a stark intrusion. Would you put a 23-story tower next to the Louvre?”

This time around, the lead renovation architect is Paul Spencer Byard of Platt Byard Dovell White in Manhattan, and the proposal to potential developers specifies that a “star architect” be chosen to design the tower, subject to the society’s approval. The first phase could start next summer.

The master plan calls for 70,000 feet of new program and office space for the society, as well as 120,000 square feet for residential use. Ultimately the renovation would create three large new galleries in the building while providing more continuous access to existing exhibition space.

Mr. Byard said the building “was designed as a private club that did not intend to embrace the public.”

“The front entrance is so tiny,” he said. “It’s as if they expected no one to come in there.”

Dr. Mirrer said the building had been likened “to a mausoleum, a very forbidding building that is hardly welcoming.” She said the confusing layout permitted only a fraction of the society’s collections to be on view.

“We want the building to symbolize our new direction, signaling to people that we want them to come in,” she said.

The society with its 100 employees had a budget of $17 million last year, and some 175,000 visitors came to see the $5 million show, “Slavery in New York.” The next installment, “New York Divided: Slavery and the Civil War,” opens Nov. 17.

In the renovation, the prominent portal on West 77th Street would be modified and de-emphasized, and the Central Park West entrance would be tripled to 38 feet in width. A crystalline lobby would open onto an orientation and exhibition space, leading to a cafe moved from the basement to the gallery now at the corner of 77th Street and Central Park West.

The master plan would nearly double the society’s gallery space; add an elevator and augment educational, administrative and storage space. A 400-seat auditorium, replacing a 320-seat theater, would be constructed in the 76th Street annex, which would also have classroom space and three floors of library stacks below grade.

The annex would be a floor taller than existing brownstones on West 76th Street, but Mr. Byard said it would conform to zoning restrictions. A newly constructed fifth floor in the main building would provide exhibition and event space.

In a second phase of construction, which could take five years or more, the society’s 1937 library-stack tower would be replaced by a 23-story skyscraper that has 18 floors of condominium apartments.

The apartment tower would be 280 feet high, doubling the 136-foot height of the current structure. On floors above the annex, the tower would extend over the society’s current roof. No air rights are necessary, Mr. Bayard said, since the tower conforms to the building’s potential size under current zoning rules.

Dr. Mirrer said she hoped that some of the apartments could be set aside as affordable housing for teachers.

The core of the society’s building was finished 98 years ago, with modifications in the 1930s. The exterior has landmark status not only individually, but also as part of the Upper West Side-Central Park West Historic District and a smaller domain, the Central Park West-76th Street Historic District. The Department of City Planning must also sign off, and public hearings are expected.

The arguments could get ugly.

“The society’s plan would prop up an institution that is no longer viable,” said Mr. Wright, of the co-op next door. “Why should we go through all this agita if the institution is going down?”

Mr. Wright added that while views in the 92-unit building are likely to be blocked — including his own on the eighth floor — it was premature to say whether his building’s board would file a lawsuit. He is also co-chairman of the Park West 77th Street Block Association.

Kate Wood, executive director of Landmark West, a 21-year-old Upper West Side group, said that some preservationists were also concerned that the proposal would have an impact on “the skyline of Central Park West, and would be seen as a precedent, since all over the city, low-rise historic sites are seen as development opportunities.”

Mr. Moyers’s wife, Judith Davidson Moyers, is also a preservation activist. She is worried about the tower’s shadow on Central Park and added that “it seems inconsistent with the mission of the historical society to intrude on the historical nature of the neighborhood.”

Dr. Mirrer said that “having a good relationship with the community is important for us. We hope that the amenity of having a lively cultural institution would be great for the neighborhood.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

ablarc
November 1st, 2006, 02:38 AM
The journalist Bill Moyers, who has lived a block away on Central Park West for 25 years, said: “We would support the renovation of the existing building, but everyone should object to a tower that would be a stark intrusion. Would you put a 23-story tower next to the Louvre?”
My respect for Bill Moyers just nosedived. That is about the stupidest thing I've heard anyone say --maybe ever. There are so many ways that statement is wrong that they don't deserve to be pointed out.

Must be senile.

Kris
November 1st, 2006, 11:28 AM
But neighborhood opposition has foiled the society’s planned expansions in the past, including a 1984 proposal for a much broader 23-story apartment tower of limestone and granite, designed by the architect Hugh Hardy. The landmarks commission voted it down.
http://thecityreview.com/byard2.gif

http://thecityreview.com/byard.html

ablarc
November 2nd, 2006, 10:10 PM
^ Primitive postmodernism. Compare this with Stern's much suaver opus a few blocks down Central Park West.

lofter1
November 2nd, 2006, 11:33 PM
There was a picture of the new design in the print edition of the NY Times, but it hasn't shown up in the online edition.

Basically it appeared to be a very minimalist tower set off to the back-left of the image shown above. Probably the best design solution for the existing building -- but IMO chances are slim that it will be ok'd -- a shame, really, when one considers the red brick POS that was allowed to go up just to the west of the Museum of Natural History about 20 years back.

lofter1
December 30th, 2006, 12:39 AM
Neighbors Question the Historical Society’s
Plans to Expand


nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/30/nyregion/30society.html?ref=nyregion)
By GLENN COLLINS
December 30, 2006


Peter M. Wright was pacing from eighth-floor window to window, pointing to the spot where a proposed 23-story luxury tower atop the New-York Historical Society could block a swath of his Central Park West sky. Then he indicated the place where a new annex building would eclipse his view of a row of charming limestone town houses.


“I’m concerned — and everyone in this building is concerned — about restricted views,” said Mr. Wright, 64, a tenant of 6 West 77th Street, the residence most likely to be affected.


“But this can’t be all about ‘not in my backyard,’ ” Mr. Wright said. “It has to be about a project that is a monument to miscalculation.”


That project is the planned $20 million renovation of the society, to be followed not only by the construction of a fifth floor atop its roof but also a more costly glass apartment tower behind the society’s museum and library at 170 Central Park West, between 76th and 77th Streets.


Earlier this month, the society received bids for the plan from eight developers. The society has approached the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which must approve changes to the building’s neo-Classical exterior.


The society sees the proposal not as a miscalculation but rather as a necessity. “We hope the community sees our institution as a major amenity and asset, but we do have a need to grow,” said Louise Mirrer, the society’s president. The expansion, she said, would provide space for reorganized galleries and collections and help the institution meet a growing public role and contribute to its solvency. “We hope to do a responsible development.”


But since it was announced last month, the proposal has been met with a wide coalition of opponents, as well as concern from city officials not only about the plan’s aesthetics but also about the millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money in previous improvements that could be demolished.


For decades, community opposition has hindered expansion plans. Now, neighbors and preservationists, bloodied from recent battles against developers, are rallying again. “The winds of war are stirring, and this is the calm before the storm,” said Joseph Bolanos, president of the West 76th Street Park Block Association, who claims to have 100 members living between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.


In the first institutional opposition, the 13-member public policy committee of the New York Landmarks Conservancy earlier this month rejected the society’s initial plan to renovate the 1908 building, said Peg Breen, the independent group’s president.


Referring to renderings that depicted a larger entrance on Central Park West and some larger windows, Ms. Breen said that enlarging the entrance and the windows “would amount to a wholesale removal of much original building material,” adding, “They are a history museum, and the building is part of their history.”


While the conservancy cannot veto construction, its recommendations have sometimes carried weight with the Landmarks Commission and government and private groups that provide financing.


Dr. Mirrer said she was concerned that the current entrance did not conform to fire-exit requirements and that it is “important to modify the building in ways that signify we are open and welcoming.” The society’s architects are changing the design to respond to the conservancy’s feedback.


Some preservationists like Ms. Breen see the tower as a symbol of other struggling West Side nonprofit organizations. “Developers are going door to door to churches to see if they can buy them,” she said.


Mr. Bolanos of the block association said the tower “would ruin the neighborhood,” and added: “Our membership is concerned about the changing character of the West Side. People feel they are being steamrollered.”


He referred to struggles like those over the nearby Dakota Stable on Amsterdam Avenue at 77th Street, the Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle and the Congregation Shearith Israel at 70th Street near Central Park West.


Kate Wood, the executive director of Landmark West, a 21-year-old Upper West Side group, said: “We’ve been getting a lot of e-mails and calls saying what can we do? People are on high alert.”


At 6-16 West 77th Street, “people are concerned, but not hysterical,” said Ernie von Simson, the president of the co-op’s seven-member board. “There is so much we don’t know. We met with Dr. Mirrer, and we want to meet again.”


Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer, who represents the neighborhood, already opposes one aspect of the society’s plan. “For historic reasons, a glass tower is wrong,” she said, adding: “This is going to be a long process. I don’t know if they can get it done.”


Dr. Mirrer said, “The glass tower idea was a place holder,” adding, “It’s not determined what the tower will look like because the developers will choose the architect with us.”


Nevertheless, Mr. Bolanos said, “our game plan is to protest everything that happens.” He added: “We’re ready to go full blast. Our people are very angry.”


The society’s plans may face restrictions imposed by the city and the state, which have contributed more than $25 million for improvements inside the building since the early 1990s, when the neglected, and nearly bankrupt, society closed its doors for two years.


In its initial presentations, the society said it was considering moving its auditorium to the five-story annex and using the space for an orientation center. It planned to reconfigure gallery floors and ceilings, to replace the current elevator with two new ones and adorn a gallery ceiling with art by Keith Haring.


“A substantial amount of money was spent in the auditorium and in a renovation of the elevator and in the first-floor galleries for new ceilings and other improvements,” said Ed Norris, the society’s chief operating officer from 1994 to 2002. “And new floors were put in.”


The acceptance of city money required the society to sign agreements to protect the construction for the life of the bonds that paid for the improvements, said Kate D. Levin, the city’s cultural affairs commissioner. “If it is not a necessary change, and it vitiates a taxpayer investment, we’re not going to do it,” the commissioner said, adding that the society had submitted only preliminary plans. “We are sure they will be cooperative in protecting city assets.”


Dr. Mirrer said, “We will be absolutely scrupulous in following the agreements,” adding, “We would not do anything illegal.”


Experts disagree about possible financial return from a tower. Daniel F. Sciannameo, the president of Albert Valuation Group New York, an appraiser and real estate consultant, estimated that the society could get “$10 million to $20 million,” including the construction of its annex for free.


Development rights could go as high as $600 or $700 a square foot, he said, because “how many times do you get a chance to build on Central Park West?”


But Robert I. Shapiro, the president of City Center Real Estate, a consulting company specializing in development rights, said, “A lot of developers would approach it with a great deal of caution,” adding that the society “would be lucky if it were a wash,” where the developer did not profit enough to give a bonus to the society.


The possibility of high construction cost was a negative, he said, as well as delays resulting from the landmark and community-consultation process.


Dr. Mirrer said, “We have no dollar threshold or expectation, but any money that we raise in any way would be very welcome.”


The neighborhood is not uniformly opposed. “At present, the street is less safe than it might be,” said David Berkowitz, the owner of a West 76th Street town house next to the society’s empty lot at 7-13 West 76th Street, “and that’s one reason why I might be supportive of a luxury residential building developed on that site.”


But other residents, like Mr. Bolanos, are raising objections to construction. He points to evidence of a 20-foot-deep stream that he says would threaten the basement of the annex, with its three floors of underground library storage. Dr. Mirrer responded that test borings had been taken “and construction seems to be feasible.”


Still others are challenging the society’s viability. Mr. Wright, the co-op tenant, who is co-chairman of the Park West 77th Street Block Association, said the society “is extremely fragile financially, and there is no way they are going to realize from the tower scheme the money they will need to ensure their future. Why go through all the agita if the institution is going down?”


He mentioned the society’s budget of $17 million against $4 million in revenues from admissions and other sources; Dr. Mirrer had to raise $13 million this year. Even a developer windfall “would not solve the society’s financial problems for long,” Mr. Wright said.


Dr. Mirrer countered that the society had balanced its budget for the last 10 years. “Our future is very rosy, and our very strong board has the financial wherewithal and an intellectual commitment to history,” she said.


Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Derek2k3
December 30th, 2006, 04:54 AM
Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer, who represents the neighborhood, already opposes one aspect of the society’s plan. “For historic reasons, a glass tower is wrong,” she said, adding: “This is going to be a long process. I don’t know if they can get it done.”


Dr. Mirrer said, “The glass tower idea was a place holder,” adding, “It’s not determined what the tower will look like because the developers will choose the architect with us.”


Nevertheless, Mr. Bolanos said, “our game plan is to protest everything that happens.” He added: “We’re ready to go full blast. Our people are very angry.”


Oh boy.

krulltime
December 31st, 2006, 12:03 AM
The society sees the proposal not as a miscalculation but rather as a necessity. “We hope the community sees our institution as a major amenity and asset, but we do have a need to grow,” said Louise Mirrer, the society’s president. The expansion, she said, would provide space for reorganized galleries and collections and help the institution meet a growing public role and contribute to its solvency. “We hope to do a responsible development.”

I will be very surprice if this development doesn't turn out to be either tall and ugly or a very small unforgettable building or nothing at all. 'Responsible' smells like an O'hara type of building to me.

pianoman11686
December 31st, 2006, 06:11 PM
Neighbors Question the Historical Society’s
Plans to Expand


nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/30/nyregion/30society.html?ref=nyregion)
By GLENN COLLINS
December 30, 2006


“I’m concerned — and everyone in this building is concerned — about restricted views,” said Mr. Wright, 64, a tenant of 6 West 77th Street, the residence most likely to be affected.

Of course. Your current view must be indefinitely preserved. How dare someone come along and propose to block it. By purchasing your property, you obviously also acquired a stake in the property next door. Right?



“But this can’t be all about ‘not in my backyard,’ ” Mr. Wright said. “It has to be about a project that is a monument to miscalculation.”

Incredible that these laypeople have the gall to assume that they know what's best for the institution. Keep reading...



For decades, community opposition has hindered expansion plans. Now, neighbors and preservationists, bloodied from recent battles against developers, are rallying again. “The winds of war are stirring, and this is the calm before the storm,” said Joseph Bolanos, president of the West 76th Street Park Block Association, who claims to have 100 members living between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue.

One hundred? Wow, that must represent at least 50% of all the block's residents. Clearly, majority rule must take over here. No matter what the regulations dictate: the will of the public must hold sway.



Referring to renderings that depicted a larger entrance on Central Park West and some larger windows, Ms. Breen said that enlarging the entrance and the windows “would amount to a wholesale removal of much original building material,” adding, “They are a history museum, and the building is part of their history.”

There's more of that "we know what's better for you than you do" routine...



Some preservationists like Ms. Breen see the tower as a symbol of other struggling West Side nonprofit organizations. “Developers are going door to door to churches to see if they can buy them,” she said.


Mr. Bolanos of the block association said the tower “would ruin the neighborhood,” and added: “Our membership is concerned about the changing character of the West Side. People feel they are being steamrollered.”


He referred to struggles like those over the nearby Dakota Stable on Amsterdam Avenue at 77th Street, the Museum of Arts and Design at 2 Columbus Circle and the Congregation Shearith Israel at 70th Street near Central Park West.

Oh, come on. All of this is hogwash. How else do you expect nonprofit organizations to be kept alive? It's suddenly the developers' fault that church attendance is plummeting? They should be lauding the fact that eager developers allow for institutions like the Historical Society to shore up their financial situations, while preserving existing buildings. And since when is 2 Columbus Circle located on the Upper West Side?



Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer, who represents the neighborhood, already opposes one aspect of the society’s plan. “For historic reasons, a glass tower is wrong,” she said, adding: “This is going to be a long process. I don’t know if they can get it done.”

Yet again, the NIMBY's assume they know better than the people at the Historical Society. I'm really getting sick of this tired opposition, especially when it's veiled as a "preservation effort."

sfenn1117
December 31st, 2006, 06:46 PM
Mr. Bolanos of the block association said the tower “would ruin the neighborhood,” and added: “Our membership is concerned about the changing character of the West Side. People feel they are being steamrollered.”

This is what bothers me the most about these people. They have the notion that they live in a preserved area just because it's a historic district. Well guess what, your neighborhood does not exist in a display case for the world to see. It's part of a functioning, growing city, and time does not stand still for your fantasy world.

If one tower can ruin a neighborhood, well I guess this city is just a big set of ruins.

lofter1
December 31st, 2006, 08:52 PM
The tower that nearly "ruined" that immediate neighborhood (aesthetically speaking) is the brick POS that went up in the 1980's on Columbus opposite the AMNH :eek:

Fahzee
January 8th, 2007, 07:07 PM
or, the monstrosity behind the Dakota - talk about ruining the skyline

Derek2k3
March 2nd, 2007, 12:43 PM
The opposition campaign is called SOS ("Save Our Skyline"), it should be retitled SOV, "Save Our Views." A big issue for the NiMBY's is that a glass tower doesn't belong in a historic district. If they're not happy with the current tower design why not fight for a better one, one they feel would add to their historic skyline. Of course no such design could ever exist since that's not thier true agenda. They'll just continue to fight for no tower all.

http://www.landmarkwest.org/advocacy/sos.htm

NoyokA
March 2nd, 2007, 01:51 PM
I don't know for whatever reason I don't feel a tower should be built on-top of the New York Historical Society. One its a very nice old building in a pristine setting. And second, I just can't get over a glass tower above a building called and that is the New York Historical Society.

lofter1
March 2nd, 2007, 09:17 PM
The opposition campaign is called SOS ("Save Our Skyline"), it should be retitled SOV, "Save Our Views."

The pic of the proposed tower is so bogus ...

Shows the tower from the farthest possible angle -- and from so low that the existing base covers as much of the tower as possible.

If the NYHS people are serious about this then they should step up and show what they are proposing in full -- various angles and elevations.

ablarc
March 3rd, 2007, 09:46 AM
THE CUSTOM HOUSE SOLUTION

Boston's Custom House was a nice classical building in historical surroundings:

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/customhouse/01.jpg
Amni B. Young, architect, 1837. Photo ca. 1910.

In 1913, Peabody and Stearns plonked a skyscraper on top that was so sympathetic to the original that not one person in twenty who passes by this building knows it was built in two separate campaigns 73 years apart.

That's because it's a completely harmonious whole. The second building strives to produce what the first architect would have, if asked to design a high-rise from scratch.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/customhouse/02.jpg
Exactly contemporary with the Woolworth Building, another great Beaux-Arts skyscraper.

In today's Boston, Custom House rivals Hancock as the city's most esteemed skyscraper.

http://66.230.220.70/images/post/customhouse/03.jpg
Amni B. Young, 1837, with Peabody and Stearns, 1913 --a collaboration over time.

To those who claim you can't design like this today, I say: "Balderdash!" Sez who?

Kris
March 7th, 2007, 10:03 AM
March 7, 2007
Historical Society Loses Round in Fight to Renovate a Landmark
By GLENN COLLINS

In a stormy two-hour meeting before 200 neighborhood residents last night, the New-York Historical Society was rebuffed by Community Board 7 in Manhattan, which resoundingly opposed the group’s proposal to renovate the exterior of its landmark building at 170 Central Park West.

The board voted 40 to 2 against a plan that would replace the society’s eight-foot-wide doorway, built in 1908, with a 40-foot glass entryway and granite portico at the main entrance between West 76th and 77th Streets.

Because the board is an advisory body, its decision does not block the renovation. But as a signal of strong community opposition, the vote could carry weight with the New York City Planning Commission and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which is likely to hold a hearing on the plan this month. Both groups have veto power over the project.

Louise Mirrer, the historical society’s president, said the community board inappropriately linked the renovation plan to the construction of a 23-story luxury residential tower that the society has proposed as an addition to its four-story building.

“I’m disappointed,” Dr. Mirrer said, adding that the community board’s vote, if used as a precedent, “would prevent any landmark anywhere from ever doing anything new.”

Kate Wood, executive director of Landmark West, an Upper West Side preservation group, said that the historical society’s project “deserves to be stopped in its tracks.” She described it as “a Trojan horse” for the luxury tower and added, “Please don’t open the gate.”

Scott M. Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, said he could not take a position for or against the plan. “But we should call it what it is,” he said. “It’s going to be a large tower. It’s not about phase one tonight — it’s about what comes after the facade.”

Dr. Mirrer argued that the renovation is essential to make the building more inviting and its exhibitions more accessible, and, she added, that it might be years before a tower could be approved. But Peter M. Wright, co-chairman of the Park West 77th Street Block Association, termed the design “an ill-conceived facade.” The tower, he said, would intrude upon the Central Park skyline and cast a shadow on the park itself.

“I’m pleased,” Mr. Wright said of the vote, adding that it was a step toward defeating the tower plan.

For weeks, preservation groups that oppose the renovation had been e-mailing their members to attend the meeting, held in an auditorium at the American Bible Society at West 61st Street and Broadway. The society, meanwhile, had been exhorting its members to lobby elected city officials to support the plan.

The debate — which followed an hour of discussion on other projects — was punctuated with catcalls and applause. The society’s plan proposes changes not only to the Central Park West entrance, it also would de-emphasize the West 77th Street entrance and reconfigure existing windows there for the construction of a cafe.

The opposition of the community board “bears the hallmark of a group that has campaigned against the historical society,” Dr. Mirrer said. “Of course we will press on.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

ablarc
March 24th, 2007, 10:20 AM
The tower, he said, would intrude upon the Central Park skyline and cast a shadow on the park itself.
Trees do this too.

Luca
March 26th, 2007, 03:01 AM
THE CUSTOM HOUSE SOLUTION
To those who claim you can't design like this today, I say: "Balderdash!" Sez who?

It depends on whether one seeks thw approval of one's peers. Just look at the ignominous reception by the architect mafia) of the splendid new concert hall in Nashville...

If Cass Gilbert were alive today he would get as many commissions at Quinlan Terry, i.e. not many.

Hof
April 10th, 2007, 02:11 PM
I happened to be in Nashville last Fall when the new Schermerhorn Symphony Center had it's grand opening.
It's located just two blocks off the Broadway entertainment district,right across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame and an additional block's distance from the fabled Ryman Auditorium.It is a worthy addition to a place that calls itself "Music City".
As you stroll down Broadway,you are afforded glimpses of the building,and being a curious urban explorer I had to know more about it,so I detoured from the club scene long enough to check it out.

Nashv.,of course,is famous in architectural circles for another classic structure,a faithful reproduction of the Greek Parthenon,so adding yet another neoclassic interpretation of an ancient European temple/concert hall was no great leap for the city.Frankly,the building is so well done that I thought,for a brief moment,that it was a refurbishment and cleanup of an old structure,something that had been in DT Nashville for generations.I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that it was brand spanking new.

I walked around the building,impressed with the fine details and the faithful adherance to what has become almost a lost art,architectural-wise.Nobody builds in the neoclassic Greco-Roman style anymore(outside of some structures on college campuses),and a building of this scale,in this design,has not been put in place anywhere recently in an American Downtown,as far as I know.It's grand entrance closely resembles the formality of the Main Public Library or the 5th Ave entrance to the Metropolitan Museum.It's very imposing,yet friendly,and a real tribute to the culture mavens of Nashville.

As an aside,I was also taken aback with the vibrancy of DT Nashville.I never expected to see what I saw.
On the same night that the Schermerhorn hosted it's black-tie Grand Opening,Green Day had a concert at the Ryman Entertainment Center--two blocks away on Broadway--George Jones' 70th birthday party was going on at the old Ryman/Grand ol' Opry building a block up the hill and Toby Keith's "Bridges" movie was debuting at a DT movie house with all the pomp and ceremony of a Hollywood premiere.Downtown was jumping,with crowds and traffic that could rival Times Square.I was very impressed.Among smaller cities,only Austin has given me this particular vibe.

Vanderbilt had just opened their football season that day (they lost),the Titans were having their pre-opening game party (across the river but walkable from DT--they lost,too)and Broadway and Second street (loaded with dozens of live music venues)were as lively as The French Quarter on a busy pre-Katrina Saturday.The State Fair was also in session a few miles away,and on Music Row,a dozen Grammy parties were happening.A million things were going on in Nashville.

But it was Downtown wher the party was.Within a very few square blocks were Classical Symphony,Rock,Country and dozens of house bands with everything from sole six-stringers plunking out old folk songs to longhair punk rockers imitating Linkin Park.Music overload.I loved it.

This town is a hair away from being a GREAT party city,and could easily steal New Orleans' reputation as a definitive destination for music,party and architecture lovers.And the beer is only 3 bucks a bottle.

pianoman11686
April 23rd, 2007, 10:10 PM
From http://cityrealty.com/new_developments:

Landmarks agency reviews Historical Society's renovation plans 18-APR-07

http://www.cityrealty.com/graphics/uploads/1176928476_nyhist2.jpg

The Landmarks Preservation Commission held a hearing yesterday on an application for a certificate of appropriateness to make facade changes to the New York Historical Society on Central Park West to provide improve disable access, emergency egress, improved interior circulation and new elevators and mechanical equipment.

The commission did not make a decision and asked the society to review and revise its plans.

An e-mail from Landmark West, a civic organization active on the Upper West Side and opposed to the society's plans to develop a mixed-use tower on its site, said that the plans were sent back by the commission "to the drawing board, but with clear encouragement to move ahead."

"The commissioners peppered the Society with many specific questions about doors and windows, access and egress," the e-mail continued, but "carefully avoided asking about the 280-foot-tall tower that the Society has advertised as part of a grand, windfall scheme to seal its future. Indeed, Chair [Robert Tierney gave Society President Louise Mirrer an easy softball pitch to restate her mantra that the facade changes are completely separate from any future project."

Community Board 7 voted 40 to 2 March 6 to recommend that the commission deny the application, making references to a mixed-use tower that the society is considering on its site that is not part of the application now before the Landmarks Preservation Commission, expressing concerns that approval of the facade changes "will be used to bootstrap arguments that the Phase 2 design is appropriate use."

While the co-chairs of the board's committee, Lenore Norman and Klari Neuwelt, maintained that the vote was only about the society's proposed facade changes that they found inappropriate such as the "use of bronze and glass, rather than masonry, for the walls and railings of the new ramps on each of the affected facades," the resolution adopted by the board made reference to plans by the society for "a mixed-use museum/residential building on its site fronting 76th Street."

A New York Times article by Glenn Collins November 1, 2006 reported that the society had invited 8 developers to make proposals for the erection of a mixed-use building that could be 23 stories and 280 feet high on a vacant lot it owns at 7-13 West 76th Street behind its building that fills the Central Park West blockfront between 76th and 77th Streets. The new tower would provide about 75,000 square feet of space for the society beneath 18 floors of condominium apartments and part of the tower would be cantilevered over the society's existing building, whose original center section was designed in neo-classical style in 1904 by York & Sawyer and expanded with wings at the north and south in 1937 by Walker & Gillette.

Under plans prepared for the society by Paul Spencer Byard of the architectural firm of Platt, Byard, Dovell & White, the narrow Central Park West entrance would be widened with its bronze doors probably moved perpendicularly to the sides and a broadened staircase would extend 15 inches further onto the sidewalk to permit long flanking ramps for disabled access and the somewhat steeper staircase would permit a major redesign of the society's first floor coupled with a redesign of its 77th Street entrance where a caf¿ with a Keith Haring-designed ceiling would be installed overlooking the gardens of the American Museum of Natural History across 77th Street.

Existing torch¿res at the entrance would be removed, but saved, and tall kiosk stanchions would be installed for announcements on either side of the entrance.

The society has a major collection of Hudson River School paintings, including many major works by Thomas Cole, original watercolors by Aububon. It recently held an exhibition on slavery in New York State.

antinimby
July 9th, 2008, 03:03 PM
Historical Society Drops Plan for Expansion and Condos



By GLENN COLLINS
Published: July 9, 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/nyregion/09society.html)

After a year and a half of controversy and intense opposition by preservationists and neighborhood groups, the New-York Historical Society at 77th Street and Central Park West has abandoned its pursuit of a $100 million, 23-story luxury condominium tower, along with a five-story annex that would have risen above an adjacent empty lot the society owns at 7-13 West 76th Street.

Instead, the society has embarked on a $55 million, three-year renovation of its galleries, entrance and facade that will create a permanent main-floor exhibition hall showcasing some of its treasures, an interactive multimedia orientation program in its auditorium, an 85-seat cafe and a below-ground children’s gallery and library, society officials said.

And during the months while main-floor galleries are closed in the third year of construction, the society will collaborate for the first time with El Museo del Barrio in mounting an exhibition across Central Park in its museum at East 104th Street and Fifth Avenue, to be called “Nueva York,” celebrating the city’s Hispanic history.

“We don’t have plans for a tower,” said Louise Mirrer, the society’s president, adding, “We think we can meet our needs over the next few years by focusing on our building.”

Preservationists and neighborhood groups consider the abandonment of the tower as a victory — and a precedent. “It’s a victory for communities because it reinforces the idea that they can preserve their character and at times avoid useless development,” said Joseph Bolanos, president of the West 76th Street Park Block Association.

Mr. Bolanos said the demise of the tower “is a signal to other nonprofits that are trying to change the character of neighborhoods to their benefit,” but added: “We’re not popping any corks yet. It is a victory that can be savored for a few days until the next shoe drops.”

The society has already raised the $55 million cost of renovation, Dr. Mirrer said, adding, “We hope to raise a total of $70 million to increase the society’s endowment.”

A wide coalition of opponents had criticized the height of the tower — 280 feet, doubling the 136-foot height of the current structure — and had charged that the tower would deform the skyline of Central Park West and cast a shadow on Central Park. The society’s building has landmark status individually, and as part of the Upper West Side-Central Park West Historic District and a smaller domain, the Central Park West-76th Street Historic District.

“Our members feel relief that there won’t be this thing over them, this great unaesthetic vertical shadow,” said Peter M. Wright, co-chairman of the Park West 77th Street Block Association, who lives in the 92-unit cooperative at 6-16 West 77th Street where the tower would have blocked some views.

But some preservationists were already looking ahead. “We always knew the society’s plan was a stalking-horse that would have opened the door to more tower development on Central Park West,” said Kate Wood, executive director of Landmark West, an Upper West Side group. “So, this is a victory for the community that cares about the historic skyline and the park, but the fight is far from over.”

The tower would have been constructed where the society’s 1937 library-stack structure now stands, to the west of the main building. The society had sought a developer who would provide financing and construct not only the apartment tower and an extra floor atop its four-story building, but also the annex. Real estate experts estimated that such a tower would have cost at least $100 million for construction, the developer’s profit and the cost of marketing.

The society hoped to double its gallery space, add an elevator and augment educational, administrative and storage space, and would have constructed a fifth floor in the main building; these plans are now defunct.
In December 2006, the society received bids for the plan from eight developers. “Ultimately, though, the board has chosen not to go forward,” Dr. Mirrer said.

For decades, opposition from local groups has hindered the society’s expansion plans, and a 1984 proposal for a much larger apartment tower was voted down by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Dr. Mirrer denied that community criticism was responsible yet again for toppling a tower plan, but said, “We respect our neighbors and our community, and we like to get along with them.”

She added that the tower’s demise was not related to the economic downturn or rising construction costs, and offered as an explanation that “the board decided instead to focus on the needs and potential of our existing building.”

As for the renovation, it “will make the society more accessible, more welcoming and more compelling,” Dr. Mirrer said.

The society will showcase elements of its permanent collection — including such star exhibits as George Washington’s inaugural chair — in a new permanent installation, the Robert and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History, named after its principal donors. It will be at the Central Park West entry on the main floor, incorporating three smaller galleries and the current admissions area.

“We are hoping, in an arresting and exciting way, to tell the American story through the lens of New York City,” said Kenneth T. Jackson, a Columbia University history professor who is an adviser on the project.

The society is also creating what Dr. Mirrer called an orientation experience, she said, “a continuously running multimedia presentation” that will occupy the auditorium during public hours. In the renovation, about a third of the 320 seats in its ornate auditorium will be reoriented “so that they all face the stage,” Dr. Mirrer said. Currently, some seats are sideways to the stage.

The building’s 45-seat cafe on the lower level will move to a new main-floor space near West 77th Street, doubling its size. It will be part of the new Lawrence and Eris Field Gallery, named for its principal donors.
The lower level will become a children’s gallery and history library. “We wanted to have a permanent space for children, which we don’t have now,” Dr. Mirrer said.

In public testimony before the landmarks commission, some speakers opposed any changes to the exterior of the society’s landmark building at 170 Central Park West, but in April 2007, after rejecting an initial proposal, the commission approved the society’s request to conduct a more modest exterior renovation.

The interior is not a landmark, so the commission’s approval is not needed for the remaining renovation.

Scott Duenow, a senior associate for Platt Byard Dovell White, the renovation architect, said, “We think the renovations to the facade will make the society more of an asset, architecturally, to Central Park West.”

Dr. Mirrer said the interior construction plans would not violate restrictions imposed by the city and the state, which have contributed more than $25 million for prior improvements inside the building since the early 1990s, when the neglected and nearly bankrupt society closed its doors for two years.

During the three-year renovation, the society’s library will be open, Dr. Mirrer said. And there will be two exhibitions that she called “blockbuster history shows”: “Grant and Lee in War and Peace” next fall, and “Lincoln in New York” in the fall of 2009. After completion of the new main-floor permanent exhibition, such shows will be presented in the society’s second-floor galleries.

In the fall of 2010, while the society’s main floor is shuttered during the last year of construction, the society will collaborate with El Museo del Barrio on an exhibition in its building at 1230 Fifth Avenue “derived from the collections of both institutions,” Dr. Mirrer said. The society’s renovations are expected to be completed by the fall of 2011.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Derek2k3
April 10th, 2011, 11:44 PM
The tower by Meier that was dropped. Overly restrained.
http://www.richardmeier.com/www/#/projects/architecture/location/n.-america/united-states/2/300/1/

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5225/5608235227_b2b053a0eb_b.jpg

Shame modern architecture has little room for finishing off towers gracefully.
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4109/5604258512_af3e1e1d31_b.jpg
bumbyfoto (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bumbyfoto/5604258512/sizes/l/in/pool-47438114@N00/)

Merry
November 19th, 2011, 10:10 PM
New Acquisition: A Welcome Mat

By CHRISTOPHER GRAY

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/realestate/new-york-historical-society-streetscapes-new-acquisition-a-welcome-mat.html?_r=2&ref=streetscapes