Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Petition: LANDMARK Queens Clock Tower, Bank of The Manhattan Company!

The iconic Clock Tower of Queens may be demolished, but must earn NYC Individual Landmark status. It takes moments to sign the petition & inform your friends:  Calendaring, a public hearing, & designation by the Landmarks Preservation Commission must occur ASAP, so please emphasize that in the petition's comments section. The clock is ticking! 

 Photo by Clemens Kois
In addition to Landmark status, we believe this iconic building merits restoration and creative reuse, as Queens Plaza undergoes redevelopment. The building was sold twice in 2014, & the commercial tenants received notification to vacate.  Thankfully, local residents and architects Michael Hall & Matthew Chrislip of +Partners are spearheading a noble preservation campaign:

Photo by Michael Perlman

Statement from Rego-Forest Preservation Council to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

The Bank of The Manhattan Company, also known as the Clock Tower, is one of Queens' most iconic and deserving landmarks at 29-27 41st Avenue (Queens Plaza North), designed in a Neo-Gothic meets Art Deco style. On October 25, 1925, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle published, "A 4-way clock tower will rise from the 11th floor and will be a landmark easily seen from all points of Queens, as well as from Manhattan." In 1928, The NY Times reported that the Queens Chamber of Commerce recognized the Bank of The Manhattan Company tower with a first prize award for its architectural and civic value. Upon the building's completion in 1927, it was noted as a skyscraper in Queens, being that it was the tallest, and was deemed a symbol of growth and integrity. That same year, an ad by The Electime Company regarded it as “A Tower of Truth.”

This early skyscraper is a unique and striking landmark, with its castle-like parapet, crests, gargoyles, intriguing variation of limestone and brick, illuminated electron clock, and cartouches inscribed with “BM,” which relate to the bank’s name and commitment. Architect Morrell Smith, who was the Bank of The Manhattan Company’s principal architect for various projects, was a visionary. 

Without official landmark status by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, what is popularly referred to as the clock tower will stop ticking forever, and a historic site will be demolished. May this triumphant building stand proudly for future generations. With a new Chairperson of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, Meenakshi Srinivasan, the time has come for transparency at the public’s request, and an increase in the pace of Individual Landmark and Historic District designations in Queens.

Historic Documentation

Queensborough, 1927, Courtesy of the Queens Chamber of Commerce
Lithograph courtesy of Michael Perlman's collection
Queensborough, 1928, Courtesy of the Queens Chamber of Commerce 
Queensborough, 1927, Courtesy of the Queens Chamber of Commerce
Queensborough, 1927, Courtesy of the Queens Chamber of Commerce
Queensborough, 1927, Courtesy of the Queens Chamber of Commerce
Queensborough, 1927, Courtesy of the Queens Chamber of Commerce
Queensborough, 1938, Courtesy of the Queens Chamber of Commerce

Monday, December 8, 2014

Potential Landmarks In Peril Citywide‏ - Appeal To The Landmarks Preservation Commission

A map of landmark-worthy properties which may face the wrecking ball or major alterations if de-calendared:

Fairway Apartments, 76-09 34th Avenue, Jackson Heights in 1937
An open letter, which was sent to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission at on December 6, 2014:

Dear LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan & Commissioners,

On behalf of Rego-Forest Preservation Council, we would like to extend our gratitude in response to the Landmarks Preservation Commission's cancellation of the proposed administrative hearing on December 9, 2014, which would have likely resulted in the de-calendaring of nearly 100 landmark-worthy individual properties and two landmark-worthy districts.

We feel that if the Landmarks Preservation Commission was to engage in a massive de-calendaring, it would set a risky precedent, where those properties may undergo demolition as-of-right, and the public would speculate that future calendared properties may be de-calendared and also demolished. New York City residents, community groups, elected officials, and preservationists at large work tirelessly to research, propose, and advocate for new landmarks, which have largely resulted in those properties to have been calendared.

The public is routinely presented with the opportunity to testify on hearing items, but a "commissioner only" vote on a massive de-calendaring would have appeared as if the public has no voice in the landmarking process, or as if we inhabited the days of protests before witnessing the classic Pennsylvania Station's demolition.

Our landmarks and potential landmarks are a unique contribution to our city's architectural and cultural history, diversity, and aesthetics, and are cornerstones in the eyes of NYC residents who experience their communities first-hand. As per the Landmarks Law, which enables the public to provide testimony for properties, the public needs to have a say in the future of the nearly 100 individual properties and the 2 districts, which have been calendared.

Upon reviewing the listing of the proposed de-calendaring items, our boroughs would lose their identity and distinctive qualities of a livable community. Some cases in point are the Ahles House and the Douglaston Historic District Extension in Queens, the IRT Powerhouse and Loew's 175th Street Theater in Manhattan, the 5466 Arthur Kill Road House and Garner Mansion in Staten Island, the 65 Schofield Street House and the Samuel Babcock House in the Bronx, and St. Barbara's Roman Catholic Church and St. Augustine's Roman Catholic Church and Rectory in Brooklyn.

We strongly encourage the Landmarks Preservation Commission to schedule public hearings for all of the calendared items, beginning where there is most pressure to alter, sell, or redevelop the site, or where development patterns in the surrounding community could compromise the site's integrity or longevity. May the Landmarks Preservation Commission and New Yorkers work as a team, to emphasize how a governmental body and their constituency can operate cohesively for our city's improvement. Thank you for your consideration.


~ Michael Perlman
Rego-Forest Preservation Council, Chair
Forest Hills, NY

Douglaston Historic District Extension - This is one example of the neighborhood's homes: 39-12 Douglaston Parkway, completed circa 1910
Ahles House, 39-24 to 39-26 213th Street, Bayside
First Reformed Church of College Point, 118-09 14th Avenue, Courtesy of College Point Memories Blog
Pepsi-Cola Sign in daylight, Long Island City, Photo by Bridge and Tunnel Club
Pepsi-Cola Sign illuminated, Long Island City, Photo by Bridge and Tunnel Club
Bowne Street Community Church, 38-01 Bowne Street, Flushing
Spanish Towers Homes, 34-30 to 34-52 75th Street, Jackson Heights
Old Calvary Cemetery Gatehouse at Greenpoint & Gale Avenues, Blissville, Photo courtesy of Forgotten NY

Now imagine if our Forest Hills landmarks remained stagnant on a calendared but not landmarked list, and were on the verge of being de-calendared. This is why a public hearing and a motion to designate in a reasonable timespan is essential.

Ridgewood Savings Bank, 107-55 Queens Boulevard, Designated May 30, 2000, Photo by Michael Perlman

Engine Co 305, Hook & Ladder Co 151 at 111-02 Queens Boulevard, Designated June 12, 2012, Photo by Michael Perlman

Remsen Cemetery at Alderton Street & Trotting Course Lane, Designated May 26, 1981