Moves to Protect the East Village

Community SynagogueGrace MaaloufThe Community Synagogue on East 6th Street is one of the significant buildings to be included in the proposed new historic district.

As gentrification continues to alter the East Village landscape, attempts are afoot to have sections of the neighborhood designated a historic district, helping to preserve their architecture and character.

Following extensive surveying and examining the neighborhood, The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission recommended at an April 26 meeting that two areas of the East Village be designated historic districts. This is a preliminary step in the process, with a follow-up public presentation and hearing before the Landmarks Subcommittee of Community Board 3 on Thursday this week.

The two areas slated to constitute this historic district include approximately 300 buildings. One section is the north side of East 10th Street between Avenues A and B, opposite the northern boundary of Tompkins Square Park. This block includes a mix of stately 19th century brownstones along with tenement buildings.

The second area is from East 2nd Street to East 7th Streets, between the Bowery and Avenue A.

Grace MaaloufGrace MaaloufMiddle Collegiate Church.

There is already a historic district within the neighborhood, containing 38 buildings. This area includes Stuyvesant Street and East 10th and 11th Streets between Second and Third Avenues. It contains some of the East Village’s finest and best preserved historic buildings, not to mention St. Mark’s Church and the final resting place of the city’s first governor, Peter Stuyvesant.

In addition, twenty-seven East Village buildings have already been designated historic landmarks including such treasures as Webster Hall, La Mama Theater on East 4th Street, the Isaac T. Hopper House and the former PS 64/Charas building.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has been involved in a massive project of surveying and documenting the history of every building in the East Village. Andrew Berman, the Executive Director of the GVSHP views the Landmarks Commission decision as a “very important first step.” Mr Berman said, “The East Village is woefully under-landmarked, and this will hopefully begin to address that underrepresentation.”

The Fillmore East, Beethoven Hall on East 5th Street, the Community Synagogue on East 6th Street and The Middle Collegiate Church on Second Avenue are a few of the significant buildings which are included in the new district. However, other important buildings in the neighborhood would remain unprotected.

The Anthology Film Archives and the Russian Orthodox Church on East 2nd Street, for example, would remain unlandmarked.

Mr Berman sees the current effort as a beginning to recognizing a greater part of the East Village as a historic district. “We very much encourage the Commission to take this as a first step in what we hope will be a series of steps in protecting the neighborhood’s vast array of historic resources.”

Designation by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission as a historic district includes more restrictive regulations regarding building renovation and alteration than the state or national historic district designation which is being pursued for the length of the Bowery by The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors.

As such, the opposition of some affected building owners is expected at the Thursday hearing.

The hearing will take place at 6pm at The Bowery Residents Committee, 30 Delancey Street