Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Historic Houses of Broadway-Flushing
From Queens Rules:
"She [Lisi De Bourbon] added that Queens enjoyed less landmarking status than Manhattan and Brooklyn because the borough developed later and less densely."
"So, let's see - here's the round-up of historic district advocacy in Queens so far:
Broadway-Flushing, with 1330 buildings on the National and State Register of Historic Places as of 2006, has not gotten designated by the LPC despite massive support from a huge majority of residents, all elected officials (except Mayor Bloomberg), CB7 and historic preservation organizations.
Douglas Manor - developed at EXACTLY the same time at the same density by the same real estate company a century ago - gets designated, but only after a decade of contention, and are told that "nothing like this will ever happen again" by the LPC back in 1997.
Douglaston Hill, a planned suburban community developed right after the Civil War, gets less than a third of their neighborhood designated only after sheer insanity and threats from elected officials as Bloomberg ran for a second term in 2005.
Jackson Heights and Sunnyside Gardens - both planned developments with significant density, constructed mostly in the 1920s and 1930s - get designated; Jackson Heights is landmarked to help stabilize the area in the early 1990s. Sunnyside Gardens gets landmarked a few years ago after much acrimony, with charges of economic racism from a small minority of property owners, delaying designation for several years.
Ridgewood, with almost 3,000 densely packed rowhouses and apartment buildings on the National and State Register of Historic Places as of 1982, has less than 200 of them landmarked by the LPC over a 30 year period.
Fort Totten is landmarked in the early 2000s after former Mayor Giuliani tries to sell it off to St. John's University and Gary Ackerman tries to build million-dollar condos there. It is non-residential and many of the landmarked buildings are deteriorating; some, like the old Willets Farmhouse, are near collapse.
The Steinway Workers Houses, handsome Civil War-era rowhouses in the northern part of Astoria, are designated by the LPC in the mid-1970s only to be overturned by the "Borough Bulldozer" Donald Manes at the old Board of Estimate. This, along with the RKO Keiths Theater in Flushing and a few other examples, was the excuse that the LPC used for decades as a reason not to designate historic buildings in Queens.
Old Astoria - arguably one of the most historic areas in the entire city with freestanding mansions from the 1830s to the 1880s - not only does not get designated after repeated desperate pleas but is savaged by developers during the past decade.
Waldheim, in Flushing, a planned community from the 1870s in perfect condition in the 1980s desperately asks for designation in 1984, 1989, 1995 and 1998 to stop their neighborhood from being decimated. They are ignored, savaged and destroyed by developers.
Parkway Village, a planned community from the 1940s which housed some of the first United Nations workers and diplomats, is denied landmark status by the LPC, despite excellent architecture, planning and "appropriate density."
Richmond Hill, a planned community from 1875 with one of the few spontaneous restoration movements in the entire city to restore their beautiful Victorian-era buildings, receives only insults from the LPC and the neighborhood is told that they are not eligible.
Meanwhile, three neighborhoods in Victorian Flatbush with similar houses and development patterns from the turn of the 20th century are designated this year.
Kew Gardens gets an honorable mention here, as this planned neighborhood of beautiful freestanding substantial suburban-style homes from the 1910s to the 1930s is nixed by the LPC a few years ago due to opposition from their Councilperson (Melinda Katz) and the LPC's seeming hatred of freestanding substantial suburban-style homes.
Just before Election Day, the LPC announces that they are considering designating Addesleigh Park in St. Albans. This pretty suburban-style neighborhood, the home of many of the jazz greats and a crucible of African-American history from the 1930s to the present, is certainly deserving of landmark status, but the LPC did virtually no outreach. While over 300 houses are being considered - mysteriously enlarged from less than a dozen individual buildings owned by jazz greats six months ago before the Mayoral Election came into full focus - several blocks have been removed from consideration because elected officials who live there don't want to be in the proposed district.
Notice a pattern or trend? We, the tweeded, are, to put it mildly, royally fucked. In the 19th CD - Tony Avella's current district - we were told that we would not get our historic district in Broadway-Flushing (among other things) unless we voted for Paul Vallone, because he was supported by Bloomberg. So, while Vallone was defeated, the suckers in the 19th CD largely gave Bloomberg his margin of error over Bill Thompson.
Queens - a borough with neighborhoods in perpetual crisis. Better get your act together, Queens, or it's Queens Crap forevah."
-- A Concerned Resident