When the plan to rezone Midtown East was revealed last year, there was much excitement and much grumbling, but the outlines of the battle to come lacked definition. In retrospect, it seems so inevitable: how could the conflict over the heart and soul of the city’s central business district take any shape but that of progress versus preservation?
It is a conflict that haunts, if not defines, every land use debate in the city, and a particularly fitting one for Midtown. The district developed around, and largely because of, Grand Central station—a building that not only epitomizes the conflict, but helped to define it.
Landmarking might preserve a piece of history, but unfortunately it cannot stop time. And at Gage & Tollner, one of the few places in the city that is landmarked both inside and out, The Wall Street Journal has discovered a good example of a place that has kept its shell but lost its soul.
The esteemed old Southern restaurant, after having died, been revived and then remade into an Italian restaurant, a TGI Fridays and an Arby’s is now a costume jewelry shop with bare bulbs and sparkling cheap things hung on pink panels that cover the spot’s famed cherrywood and mirrors.
The residents of Carnegie Hill are not particularly experienced in protest techniques—they are more likely to walk through throngs of the demonstrators than to walk among them. But a new Toll Brothers development on Park Avenue has inspired angry Upper East Siders to take up the picket.
In a vertical city like New York, simple signs on sticks do not do much good, so neighbors have resorted to a more high-flying technique for their “visual protest” this morning, unfurling homemade banners from one of their buildings that read “Save Our History.”
“We’re all rookies at this, not professional protesters,” said Lucinda Ballard, who lives in 1112 Park Avenue, right next to the two pre-Civil War townhouses that the Philadelphia-based Toll Brothers is almost certainly planning to replace with a tower, but has thus far refused to confirm.
The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday took the first step toward landmarking Westbeth, the first subsidized artists’ housing in the United States and where television and radar were invented, and the Union League Club, whose members included J.P. Morgan, John Jay and Teddy Roosevelt.
Westbeth, at 463 West Street, is a five-building complex Read More
Activists inspired by successful High Line effort imagine grand things for Con Ed building; Con Ed not too Read More