From the Times Ledger:
Manhattan and Brooklyn, with their dense housing stock, have about 30 and 50 historic districts, respectively. But Queens was a harder sell, according to Wolfe, and has 10 historic districts, the second-fewest of the five boroughs.
In the late 1980s, Douglaston Manor residents began arguing their case before the city Landmarks Preservation Committee, a body in charge of conferring historical status.
A decade later, the historical society finally won them over. Regulations ensured that new development conformed with the historical aesthetics of the landmarked buildings. Meanwhile, in other century-old neighborhoods, urban development continued unfettered.
“If we didn’t have designation 15 years ago, this neighborhood would look like Malba,” [Architect Kevin] Wolfe said, referring to an area near College Point that is home to expensive waterfront property and historic homes of its own, but is also known for its “McMansions,” a derogatory term for palatial houses built as cheaply as possible to the limit of zoning regulations, often in a Mediterranean style replete with turrets and open-air balconies.
“It’s not about taste. It’s about greed,” he said.
Wolfe prefers to see architecture as a physical reminder of history.
“It’s what makes life rich. It’s a connection to your past that continues to change and grow,” Wolfe contended. “Historic districts are not places that are frozen in amber.”
The homes can be modernized in an organic way that allows them to age into the 21st century.
“You can do that in a graceful way or you can do it like a barbarian,” he said.