17 January 2008

City-Approved Ways to Destroy History: #47

The current building boom is flattening New York history and flattening New York character is many ways. Some ways are pretty obvious: tear down a beautiful old structure and replace it with a revolting new one. Some are more subtle: neglect a landmark or building of historic character until it become impossible to save it.

And then there's the destruction-by-proxy method. An article in AMNY today points out an example fitting this category. When a building on lower Broadway was recently demolished, it imperiled the existence of a landmarked 1872 cast-iron building at 287 Broadway, corner of Reade, which once stood by its side. The 1872 edifice now has to be propped up by long wooden supports and its tenants have been evacuated.

As David Jaroslawicz, the lawyer for the Yenem Corp., the group that owned a basement diner in the building, wisely observed: "It's only in New York that you build big buildings and no one pays attention to these details. It's like capitalism has taken away humanism."

Too true. I doubt not at all that the Department of Building and the Landmark Preservation Commission do absolutely nothing to ensure the safety and welfare of landmark buildings when new construction begins around and beside them. I don't even believe they have ever even thought of such a thing. Development happens in a vacuum, right? There are no victims; only beneficieries—i.e., the developer.

The DOB and LPC hacks are too stupid and slack-spined and corrupt to even consider that a building, for decades and even centuries buttressed on either side by a fellow structure, might miss that creation of stone and steel should it be removed. Maybe if someone kicked the chair out from a DOB offical, they'd understand the concept.


Anonymous said...

I actually saw this building when I recently visited NYC. I was shocked to see that it was marked for demolition (the orange X marks on the building). I remarked to my husband that that must be a landmark building and that it was unbelievable that all the new construction in NYC is getting away with things like this. (Because obviously the building in the empty adjacentlot was demolished to make room for new construction.) It seems as if the character of NYC is being destroyed and no one is enforcing landmark preservation laws.

Chris said...

The building's still there (October 2009). I happened to walk by it today and was struck by it. The bracing's still in place, and may have been reinforced since your picture was taken.

The next building standing to the south of the vacant lot is Cass Gilbert's Broadway-Chambers Building, also a beauty.