Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More about the rally to mourn the loss of 35 Cooper Square and save the Bowery

From the EV Grieve inbox... The funeral and rally is tomorrow night at 6:30 in front of 35 Cooper Square

Rally to Mourn the Loss of 35 Cooper Square and Save the Bowery!

May 25, 2011 – We come together as a community to mourn the loss of 35 Cooper Square and to call upon the City to take specific steps to insure that no more historic buildings are lost on the Bowery. The wanton demolition of this historic 1825 Federal-style house is a blatant reminder of how vulnerable the Bowery is to rampant out-of-scale development. [Last year, the distinctive upper floors of the Germania Bank Building (185 Bowery) were destroyed in order to preempt objections to a 30-story luxury hotel plan.]

The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors has identified and submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Commission 21 buildings recognized by historians and community members as top priorities for protection. They are the tangible survivors of three centuries of the Bowery’s rich and colorful history. Losing any of them would greatly diminish the physical evidence of the Bowery’s contributions to the city’s and the nation’s cultural and architectural history. By protecting these buildings, the City will be ensuring the bare minimum needed to keep the Bowery a real place instead of a convenient brand for real estate development. Recognizing the dangers that threaten these buildings, we urge LPC Chair Tierney to schedule his promised meeting with us as soon as possible.

However, landmarking is not enough! The City must act to relieve the intense development pressure the area labors under. The east side of the Bowery is the release valve for all speculative energy focused on the neighborhood. There is a giant “BUILD BIG HERE” sign written in the air above the Bowery that only height limits can erase. Until the City lowers the allowable height to a reasonable level, we are going to see more and more luxury buildings growing higher and higher year by year.

The City cannot continue to ignore the devastating impact overdevelopment is having on long-time residents, small businesses and the artists’ community that still exists on the Bowery. The only way to truly save the Bowery from becoming a non-place is to put fair and equitable heights on the entire east side of the street. The broad support for this has been expressed by some of our most prominent writers, artists, and business leaders, including Luc Sante, Philip Glass, and Keith (Balthazar) McNally, who has written, “Development in any neighborhood may be inevitable, but in as noted and distinctive an area as the Bowery, it is desirable only as long as it preserves the neighborhood’s character while enhancing its value” (letter to City Planning, 6-12-09).

With the Bowery poised to be listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, the City cannot continue to ignore this street’s architectural, historical and cultural importance. The Bowery has played a seminal role in the emergence of tap dance, vaudeville, minstrel shows, abstract expressionism, Beat literature and punk rock. As the convergence point for multiple historic neighborhoods (Chinatown, Little Italy, NoHo, East Village and Lower East Side), it needs to be preserved and protected in order to maintain the flow and historic sense of place of all these unique areas. As Pete Hamill stated at the candlelight vigil for 35 Cooper Square, “In order to make the present as rich as possible, you have to have a sense of the past….This is our inheritance.”

We, as a united community, call upon the City to:
• protect the Bowery’s remaining historical resources.
• change the sky’s-the-limit zoning on the Bowery’s east side to the more reasonable height caps that exist and help protect its west side.
• schedule a public hearing on the future of the Bowery.
• extend the proposed East Village Historic District study area to include portions of the Bowery.

As Amanda Burden, Chair of the City Planning Commission, has so aptly stated, “Once you lose a building, you lose character and history.” The City must now step up and save the character and history of the Bowery.

David Mulkins, Chair
Bowery Alliance of Neighbors
184 Bowery, #4
New York, NY 10012
(631) 901-5435

Victor Papa, President
Two Bridges Neighborhood Council
275 Cherry Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 566-2729

Simeon Bankoff, Exec. Director
Historic Districts Council
232 East 11th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 614-9107


Anonymous said...

Great to see such dedicated action taking place. Such passion and vision to keep the link strong between the past, present and future of New York. It is to be commended, and to be supported.

I just can't help but wonder what New York would have looked like 80 years ago, 50 years ago, or even 10 years go, if everyone 100 years had protested about development on Manhattan ("look at all these huge buildings, it's preposterous!"). Progress can't be stopped, but it must be informed, carefully guided and nurtured. I often get the feeling that readers of this blog want no progress whatsover. Which will result in the crumbling of the history that exists.

A balance is needed.

bowery boy said...

"I often get the feeling that readers of this blog want no progress whatsover."

Sorry, I know that it's late for this post, but the first comment can't be allowed to go unchallenged -- it's just not true! Things change all the time in this neighborhood that little is said about, so it may seem like commenters here don't like any progress, but that's just because you're not reading about most of it unless there's a problem.

And some progress does get covered without protest -- Mars Bar is much beloved, but no one is really trying to save it. So, thanks for your concern, Anon, but you're just wrong.