08 November 2007

Development Drive of 2007 Does What Great Fire of 1835 Couldn't

A five-story, 176-year-old warehouse between John and Platt Streets in lower Manhattan is being demolished as we speak, reports City Room. John Lam, a New York developer, is going to build high-rise hotel on the site because, as we all know, people love to stay in the Financial District, which is hopping and vital and on the rise. (Ahem.)

Now, people have noted that the building is not landmarked, and that it is plain and otherwise architecturally unremarkable. So, these people reason, why save it? Why mourn it?

I'm here to tell you why. Our friend, the warehouse, was built in 1831. The Great New York Fire struck just four years later and raged for two days, Dec. 16 and Dec. 17. It scorched 17 blocks of the city, destroying between 600 and 750 buildings. It was the most destructive conflagration that ever New York suffered. The result is there are not many Manhattan around that survived it date themselves before the fire. The warehouse is one, a living piece of pre-fire history, of what a city building looked like back then. And what do we do? We tear it down because someone thinks we need a hotel in an area where no one likes to lodge. Smooth thinking.

Oh, and I read the comments to the City Room item, and I swear, if I see another jackass presenting "not every old building has to be saved" as an argument, or reminding us that New York is all about change and progress, I'm going to find that blowhard and lead him by his lower lip onto the nearest sidewalk where I will slap his fatuous face silly.

1 comment:

Richard said...

I was saddened to see the destruction on Pearl St.I live a block away and watched them on a daily basis and took a few pictures. I now look out my kitchen window and watch the crane.