West End Avenue, circa 1927. Via Municipal Archives.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved landmark status for a large swath of the Upper West Side on Tuesday, including much of the area between Broadway and Riverside Drive from 70th to 79th streets. The new historic district encompasses 220 residential and institutional buildings. It’s the second recent extension to the West End-Riverside Historic District, which could eventually run from 70th to 109th street. The extension still needs to be approved by the City Council.

Assembly member Linda Rosenthal said the buildings need to be protected because developers could otherwise tear them down.

“I am glad that the historic buildings in the West 70s are one step closer to gaining protections from those who have no regard for the essential character of this community,” said Assemblymember Rosenthal.

Opponents of the neighborhood’s large historic districts argue that they tend to encompass some buildings that aren’t worthy of designation, which keeps the neighborhood from progressing.

Councilwoman Gale Brewer said in a statement that “the preservation of West End Avenue is about more than architectural and historic values; it provides a permanent anchor for thousands of middle class families as well as the thriving religious institutions, schools, parks, shops and services on which they rely. These, along with a unique and rich architectural heritage, are at the core of what makes the upper West Side great. That character must be preserved.”

The final section of the district stretches from 89th to 109th street (map here). It’s unclear when the LPC will vote on it.

The Church of St. Paul the Apostle at 8 Columbus Avenue (60th street) was also recommended for designation today. City Land, a publication of New York Law School, has some nice details on that church.

“The church was commissioned by the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle, known commonly as the Paulist Fathers. The order was established in 1858, with the goal of serving as missionaries to Protestant Americans. The group’s initial Upper West Side parish soon proved inadequate, and a new church was commissioned. Architect Jeremiah O’Rourke, based in New Jersey, conceived the design for the church but was replaced on the project by Paulist priest George Deshon in the early 1880s. The building is faced in granite, some of it salvaged from other Manhattan structures.

In the early 1970s, facing bankruptcy, a proposal to demolish the church and replace it with a residential development was considered. Ultimately, however, the church only sold its development rights, and a portion of its lot. The church has recently been undergoing a major restoration…Diane Macon, business manager for St. Paul the Apostle, spoke in opposition to landmarking, arguing that it would add to the church’s financial burden at a time when ‘contributions are dwindling.'”

Check out a map of the West End extension below. The boundaries of the area designated today are also explained in detail on pages 3 and 4 of this document.

Correction: we initially misstated the boundaries of the final section of the district).

West End Collegiate Extension_PUBL HEAR_20110628 by westsiderag

HISTORY, NEWS | 7 comments | permalink
    1. meech says:

      How is the Ansonia (73-74 + Broadway) and the Hotel Belleclaire (77 + Broadway) not part of the district?

    2. Pasta P says:

      Agreed. The UWS has some of the nicest architecture I have ever seen.

    3. Batya Lewton says:

      None of this would have occurred without the leadership of the West End Avenue Preservation Society which commissioned the Andrew Dolkart Study. Grateful kudos to Erika Petersen, Josette Amato and Richard Emery.

      The Upper West Side thanks you over and over again for WEPS vision and its determination. Our elected officials were supportive from the beginning. A shout-out goes to Council member Gale A. Brewer who was singled out by the Landmarks Preservation Chair for being a driving force for the creation of the Historic District Extensions. Another shout-out for Assembly member Linda B. Rosenthal who actively supported the effort.


    4. Landmark Commission Hater says:

      …and more places in NYC are now subject to unnecessary interference to perform basic and emergency repairs by a know-nothing bureaucracy knee-deep in ideology and having nothing better to do.

    5. Bob says:

      Yeah, 300 W72nd is an amazing historic building, NOT. As usual the politicians got it wrong by being lazy and just arbitrarily making the whole area a landmark versus really determining what is and what isn’t.