Testimony by New York State Senator Thomas K. Duane before the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Regarding the Designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District Extension II

October 27, 2009

My name is Thomas K. Duane and I represent New York Statefs 29th Senate District, in which all of the proposed extension of the Greenwich Village Historic District is located. Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony before the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) today.

I would like to express my appreciation to LPC for moving forward with the consideration of this second extension of the Greenwich Village Historic District, which includes a large section of the proposed South Village Historic District. As one of the few places where the architectural landscape, which played host to a succession of quintessential New York constituencies, remains virtually unaltered, the South Village is undeniably a neighborhood in need of designation. The area has a diverse history, accommodating Italian and Irish immigrants, African Americans, bohemians, hippies, and gay men and lesbians throughout the years.

The proposed Greenwich Village Historic District Extension II includes the area West of Sixth Avenue loosely bordered by West 4th Street, 7th Avenue South and West Houston Street. This area embodies the complex history of the city, with structures ranging from the grand Our Lady of Pompeii Church and Varitype Building to the modest tenements, which housed working-class immigrants. The low-rise nature and varying architectural details, from the elaborate to the minimal, characterize the row houses in the proposed extension, with the oldest dating from the 1810s to the 1830s. The varying styles exemplified in this area resulted from waves of construction with Federal and Greek Revival-style row houses starting in the early 19th century, Italianate, Neo-Grec, and Beaux-Arts-style tenements beginning in the 1860s, and Mediterranean Revival and Colonial Revival alterations in the early 20th century.

While the consideration of this extension is a significant step forward, I urge LPC to designate as expeditiously as possible the entire proposed district as detailed in the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservationfs (GVSHP) report, gThe South Village: A Proposal for Historic District Designation.h The tenements, row houses, industrial lofts, and churches together form a cohesive and unique urban fabric – and they are clearly under threat, as evidenced by the losses both west and east of Sixth Avenue, including the Tunnel Garage, the Circle in the Square Theater, the Sullivan Street Playhouse, and most recently the row house at 178 Bleecker Street. Considering the recent boom of development and the strong interest in this beautiful neighborhood, there is an urgent need for the entire South Village Historic District to fall under LPCfs thoughtful oversight.

LPCfs commitment over the past few decades to the preservation of the Village has been admirable. I now ask that you not only take the significant step of designating the proposed Greenwich Village Historic District Extension II, but also move quickly to ensure that the entirety of the historic South Village is equally protected under the Landmarks Law.

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