Each year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation issues a list of what it considers the 11 most endangered historic places in the country. Last year, they recognized Brooklyn’s threatened industrial waterfront. This year, they turn their sights on Manhattan, adding the Lower East Side to the list. The Trust writes,
“Few places in America can boast such a rich tapestry of history, culture and architecture as New York’s Lower East Side. However, this legendary neighborhood—the first home for waves of immigrants since the 18th century—is now undergoing rapid development. New hotels and condominium towers are being erected across the area, looming large over the original tenement streetscape. As this building trend shows no sign of abating, it threatens to erode the fabric of the community and wipe away the collective memory of generations of immigrant families.”
The National Trust encourages readers to support the proposed Lower East Side Historic District, which, despite its controversial beginnings, now has a broad coalition of support. The public will also have the opportunity to participate in discussions about the Lower East Side’s future during the public hearing process for the proposed East Village/LES rezoning, which is now in front of Community Board 3, and will soon move forward to the Borough President, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council. (This rezoning has been extremely controversial as well).
Other NYC locations have made the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list over the years, including: Ellis Island (1992), historic cornices and buildings of Harlem (1994), the Bronx River Parkway (1995), The East End Historic District (1996), Governors Island (1998), the TWA terminal at JFK Airport (2003), and the “Survivors’ Stairs” at the World Trade Center site (2006).
Image of the LES from the Williamsburg Bridge via Wired New York.