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Thread: West Chelsea Historic District - Designated by LPC July 15, 2008

  1. #1
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown

    Default West Chelsea Historic District - Designated by LPC July 15, 2008

    On July 15, 2008 the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the
    West Chelsea Historic District, comprised of all or parts of seven (7)
    different city blocks situated between the Hudson River & Tenth Avenue
    and West 24th Street & West 28th Street.

    From the High Line Blog / Friends of the High Line (pre-designation):

    Warehoused! New Historic District to Hug the High Line

    The handsomest factories and warehouses around the High Line got a kiss from
    the city on March 18, when the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)
    calendered a proposal for a new industrial historic district in West Chelsea ...
    Read the LPC’s statement about the district after the jump.

    Here’s a map of the district:

    There are many people and groups who’ve helped make this happen, most notably New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who provided crucial leadership on this initiative, as she has done on so many other important projects in our neighborhood (including the High Line!). State Senator Tom Duane also championed the effort, as did the Society of the Architecture of the City.

    That said, the historic district was originally the brainchild of a longtime Chelsea resident and Community Board 4 member, Ed Kirkland. Ed has been pushing for this historic district for years — it’s one of many ways this dedicated preservationist and tireless community activist has worked to ensure that the most valuable historic resources of our community are maintained.

    We’re excited about this district, because it joins the High Line’s preservation in demonstrating the importance of preserving industrial architecture and infrastructure. Some of the buildings in the district are among our favorites in the High Line neighborhood, including the Starrett-Lehigh Building, the New York Terminal Warehouse Company’s Central Stores, and many others.

    Photo courtesy NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.
    The Otis Elevator Building, built in 1911-1912, is one of the buildings
    in the proposed West Chelsea Historic District.

    Other buildings in the proposed district include: the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company Freight Warehouse;
    the RC Williams Warehouse; the Cornell Iron Works, and the Reynolds Metal Company.

    Statement about the West Chelsea Historic District by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission:
    The proposed West Chelsea Historic District is significant as one of the few remaining industrial areas associated with Manhattan’s once-thriving port and waterfront. The three large properties between 11th and 12th Avenues are directly tied to waterfront business, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company Freight Warehouse, the Starrett-Lehigh Building, and the New York Terminal Warehouse Company’s Central Stores.

    The long blocks of West 26th and West 27th Streets between 11th and 12th Avenues form one of the city’s most impressive industrial streetscapes. The remaining structures centered around the presence of rail facilities. The R. C. Williams building, for example retains a second-floor loading dock opening directly onto the High Line. Several buildings were constructed for companies that had a notable impact on the city’s development: the Otis Elevator Company, the Cornell Iron Works and the Reynolds Metal Company. Ranging in date from 1885 to 1930, most of the structures are brick-faced with stone trim and intended for manufacturing or storage.

    Styles include classical revival, Beaux Arts, Moderne and modern. Many of the buildings are designed by significant architects including Cass Gilbert, Clinton & Russell, Cory & Cory, Schickel & Ditmars, and the noted industrial architect, William Higginson.

    A number of these buildings have been flagged in environmental reviews by LPC staff as appearing to be eligible for individual Landmark designation, these include: the New York Terminal Warehouse Company’s Central Stores, the Cornell Iron Works building, the Reynolds Metal Company buildings, the Williams Building and the Otis Elevator building.

    Landmarks Commission Designates
    West Chelsea Section of Manhattan as
    New York City's 92nd Historic District

    Cornell Iron Works

    LPC website

    The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously approved
    the designation of the West Chelsea Historic District, a collection of 30 architecturally
    distinctive buildings that recall New York City’s standing as the leading manufacturing
    center in the United States during the last half of the 19th century.

    Read more.

    Read the West Chelsea Designation Report
    View the West Chelsea Historic District Map
    View the July 15th Presentation (PDF format)


    From the LPC Press Release:


    Comprising 30 Buildings, District Recognized for Its Distinctive Architecture and Role
    as a Major Center of Manufacturing, Warehousing and Freight Handling

    The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission today unanimously
    approved the designation of the West Chelsea Historic District, a collection of 30
    architecturally distinctive buildings that recall New York City’s standing as the
    leading manufacturing center in the United States during the last half of the 19th
    century. The creation of the district, which roughly stretches from West 28th to
    West 25th streets between Tenth Avenue and the Joe DiMaggio Highway (Twelfth
    Avenue), affirms the Commission’s continued commitment to preserving significant
    reminders of the City’s industrial heritage in all five boroughs.

    “The buildings in this neighborhood convey a strong sense of place that clearly
    set West Chelsea apart from Midtown to the north and Greenwich Village to the
    south, and is now one of five districts we’ve formed in the last five years that are
    tied to the City’s industrial heritage,” said Commission Chairman Robert B.
    Tierney. “West Chelsea’s streetscapes owe their cohesiveness and special
    character to the fact that the majority of the district’s buildings, which are 75
    years old or more, are still remarkably intact.”

    Several of the nation’s most prestigious manufacturers had a presence in West
    Chelsea at the end of the 19th century and during the first decades of the 20th
    century, including the famed Otis Elevator Company (260 Eleventh Ave), the

    John Williams Ornamental Brass and Iron Works (549 W. 26th St. and
    536 and 544 W. 27th St.), a manufacturer of fine arts castings such as Columbia
    University’s Alma Mater, and the bronze doors for the Boston Public Library --
    both of which designed by renowned sculptor Daniel Chester French -- and the
    Reynolds Metal Company (521-537 W. 25th St.), a maker of tin foil wrappers
    and bottle caps that was founded by the nephew of tobacco maker R.J. Reynolds.

    Constructed from 1885 to 1930, the buildings in the district followed the popular
    industrial design trends in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
    The buildings that were erected at the turn of the century feature red-brick facades,
    and a number of them were constructed in American Round Arch style, an interpretation
    of the Rundbogenstil, a German style of architecture that’s characterized by arches,
    elaborate brickwork and pilasters. Examples of this style are the Reynolds Metal
    building and Cornell Iron Works.

    Later buildings, such as grocery wholesaler R.C. Williams Company’s
    Cass Gilbert-designed warehouse at 259 Tenth Avenue were generally made
    of reinforced concrete, reflecting a major change in the kind of materials used
    in the construction of factories.

    Because of its proximity to the Hudson River ports and railroads, West Chelsea
    also became the home of several important warehousing and freight handling businesses.
    The Terminal Warehouse Company opened its massive Central Stores complex
    at 261 Eleventh Ave. in 1891, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad completed a
    terminal warehouse at 239 Eleventh Ave. in 1913 and the Lehigh Valley Railroad
    constructed its own warehouse and freight terminal in 1931. Occupying an entire
    block and completed in 1928, the Starrett-Lehigh Building, at 601 W. 26th St.,
    was one of the earliest examples of modern architecture in New York City and
    received individual landmark status from the Commission in 1986. During the
    second half of the 20th century, the number of manufacturing, freight handling and
    warehousing businesses started to decline.

    Photographs (available for viewing: pdf file) and descriptions of some of the
    buildings in the district:

    Central Stores Building, 601 W. 27th St.

    The Terminal Warehouse Company erected its Central Stores warehouse
    complex so that trains could travel down the middle of Eleventh Avenue
    from the New York Central’s yards on West 30th and enter the warehouse
    complex through the massive round arch in the building’s eastern facade.
    The seven and nine-story building, designed by George B. Mallory and Otto Beck,
    was completed in 1891 and occupies the entire block bounded by West 27th and
    28th Street and by Eleventh and Twelfth avenues.

    Otis Elevator Building, 260 Eleventh Ave.

    Constructed in the Italian Renaissance Revival style and designed by the noted
    architectural firm of Clinton & Russell, the seven-story building originally housed
    the famed elevator manufacturer’s corporate headquarters as well as a repair and
    manufacturing facility. The building, completed in 1912, was inaugurated the same
    year Otis was commissioned to build elevators for the Woolworth Building.

    During the time it maintained its headquarters here, Otis provided elevators to the
    Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building, the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center
    and the Sears Tower in Chicago.

    R.C. Willams and Company Building, 259 Tenth Ave.

    Cass Gilbert, the architect responsible for the Woolworth Building and the U.S. Customs House,
    designed this 10-story warehouse building for R.C. Williams, a wholesale grocery company.
    The modern, reinforced concrete structure was completed in 1928. Part of the reason
    why the company selected the site was the proposed removal of the New York
    Central Railroad’s at-grade tracks along Tenth Avenue, and their replacement with
    an elevated and electrified freight line that would run immediately adjacent to the site.
    R.C. Williams consigned the very first carload of freight to use the High Line
    on Aug. 1, 1933.


    The Landmarks Preservation Commission is responsible for protecting and preserving
    New York City’s architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites.
    Since its creation in 1965, LPC has granted landmark status to more than 25,000 buildings,
    including 1,200 individual landmarks, 110 interior landmarks, 10 scenic landmarks and
    92 historic districts in all five boroughs.


  2. #2
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002


    Gorgeous curves of the Starrett-Lehigh building:

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