Picturesque UWS Scaffolding to Be Considered for Landmark Status

By Yagotta B. Keeding

In a move expected to ignite neighborhood controversy, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has announced hearings on whether to require a NYC cooperative to keep its scaffolding up indefinitely.

According to city filings, the cooperative, located at 599 West 78th Street, erected the scaffolding in early 2015 for a short-term facade restoration project. But the scaffolding has now been up so long that many experts regard it as an important example of urban design.

“The 599 West 78th scaffolding is a splendid specimen of New York City construction. In a city that changes as fast as New York does, we owe it to future generations to preserve it,” wrote Charles Ryder, Columbia Professor of Architectural Painting, in an open letter supporting landmark status. Seventeen additional urban studies experts signed on to Professor Ryder’s letter.

Some have attributed the attention from City Hall to the scaffolding’s highly unusual installation. “Intentionally or not, they put it up at a severe angle to the building,” continued Professor Ryder’s letter, “inducing an extremely unique, post-modern effect.”

Commissioner Miles Daly noted some urgency to the landmark application. “Honestly, it’s remarkable that this scaffolding is still up. Normally these things come and go in weeks. This has been years.”

Neighborhood sentiment regarding the proposal is mixed. Larry Darrell, an 82-year resident of the Upper West Side, expressed support during a recent interview at Zabar’s. “I feel like I grew up with this scaffolding. It’s got so many fond memories for me. I said nothing in 1963 when the city tore down the old Penn Station. I won’t do that again.”

Philip Carey, also a long-term Upper West Side resident, objected to the landmark application on environmental grounds when asked during a roast chicken dinner at La Caridad. “The city needs more green spaces. The scaffolding is barren. Maybe if they turned it into a neighborhood composting site. Or added a pigeon aviary. But not the way it is now.”

Created in 1965, the Commission protects more than 36,000 landmark properties in New York City, including building exteriors, interior spaces, and parks. Supporters say the scaffolding application ends a glaring omission in the mix of properties preserved by New York City law.

“Support for this initiative is global,” Commissioner Dominika Egorova explained. “We even received a letter of endorsement from Autoridad de Construcción de la Sagrada Família in Barcelona, expressing admiration at our ability to keep a project going for so long.”

The application will be taken up at the Commission’s April 21, 2019 public hearing.

ABSURDITY | 32 comments | permalink
    1. CRL says:

      Well done!

    2. Gerry v. says:

      I get it . April fool’s!

    3. Sherman says:

      Very cute April Fool’s joke.

      Just waiting for the barrage of ranters on this one…..

    4. cjc says:

      “located at 599 West 78th Street”

      That building is also notable because it was the scene of a double homicide involving a Hudson University student and professor. It was investigated by Det. Briscoe and Green.

      • UWS_lifer says:

        I love you for saying Briscoe and Green and not some of the Johnny-come-lately detectives from the more recent shows.

        R.I.P Jerry Orbach

        • NYYgirl says:


        • ronald shapley says:


        • Dissident says:

          Compared to Joe Friday and Ben Romero, Briscoe and Green are most decidedly “Johnny-Come-Lately”. Granted, the former team of detective sergeants were on the LAPD (and the inimitable, redoubtable Sam Spade was based in San Francisco). But Richard Diamond was Manhattan-based…

          (I wonder how many inquiries the doormen at the real 975 Park Avenue have fielded about Diamond or the lovely Miss H.A. over the years.)

    5. Pedestrian says:

      April First brings out the jokesters!

    6. Spence says:

      HPoy April Fool’s to you too!

    7. Weird That Way says:

      ROFL !!!!

    8. Jean Mensing says:

      April Fools….. I hope but great article in the true ironic spirit of the UWS

    9. Vivian says:

      Larry Darrell, an 82-year resident of the Upper West Side, expressed support during a recent interview at Zabar’s. “I feel like I grew up with this scaffolding. It’s got so many fond memories for me.

      Really? GREW UP WITH THE SCAFFOLDING? He FINALLY decided to “grow up” in the last four years – when he was … ummm, 78??? Talk about Peter Pan Syndrome. LOL!

    10. LRobbins says:

      Is there any time limit on how long scaffolding can stay up?

    11. Jonathan says:

      My understanding is that to comply with Local Law 11 (the one which says tall buildings must inspect and repair facades every 10 or so years) as long as the scaffolding goes up, they are in compliance. So buildings will put up scaffolding to avoid fines, but take their time doing the work. That is one reason you see scaffolding up for years with no apparent work actually being done. That would be a poorly drafted law with unintended consequences. The problem is how the law was written. But landmarking scaffolding is pretty ironic….and it is April Fools, after all.

    12. Kenneth Sherrill says:

      They should take down the miserable eyesore scaffolding at 158 West 81st Street. It’s been up for over a year and no work has been done. Rumor on the block is that the bricks on the façade can’t be replaced in a manner that meets landmarking standards. This is sheer lunacy.

    13. Definitely! Make it a landmark. We have enough “architecturally significant” structures from bygone eras — who can remember the 1930’s? — with such protection already. Funny — this is right down the street from me, and I never even noticed it.

    14. Brian Kramer says:

      Well done all around. Got me til the contents. I like the by line “By Yagotta B. Keeding”

    15. Anita Gold says:

      You got me. As an architectural historian, I was about to put the 4/21 meeting in my calendar. I was already composing arguments in my mind when… I got it. Well done!

    16. Regina Cacchione says:

      Finally proof that everyone has lost their minds.

    17. jezbel says:

      I’d like to add an addendum to that nomination. Please include the ugly as blue mud scaffolding between W. 75th and W. 76th Street on the West side of Broadway in front of the co-op conversion which has been up since 2014, prior to my moving to W. 76th & B’way. And please include the 20 or 30 mini construction dumpster placed on W. 76th just outside my bedroom window. (True, I’m on the 14th floor)Collection at all hours of early AM and late night lasts upwards of 45 minutes. The dust from the construction & the dumpster collection has ruined 2 new air-conditioners and I have to change filters ever week. Never-the-less my apartment must be dusted daily, sometime twice daily from the construction dust.
      This is disgusting and must surely be grandfathered into the Construction Shed Hall of Shame.

    18. judy kass says:

      It is a terrible idea to leave this “shed” up. It’s ugly, it hides the building behind it and it will, perhaps, encourage other landlords to leave their equally unattractive scaffoldings up.

    19. Elizabeth Inserra says:

      April Fools! Great but you might point your wit at something that is not such a penance for all of us on the west side.

    20. Jan says:

      Now I know the City is going NUTS
      U can’t be serious?
      Oh I get it. Its a joke son?

    21. Sheryl Reich says:

      Damn it. You got me.

    22. steve says:

      is this a joke? people have lost their minds

    23. I’ll 100% be at the meeting. Wink wink.

    24. James says:

      Its funny that no one noticed that the two buildings in the photo are located at 86th Street and Third Avenue.

    25. Rabbit rabbit rabbit says:

      I would like to meet Yagotta!!!!

    26. B.W. says:

      I have been in NYC for nearly 13 years, and the scaffolding around the building at CPW and 85th Street was up when I moved here, and it’s STILL there. I think they took it down once, in the 13 years, but it went RIGHT BACK UP again. What is going on there?!!

    27. Tom says:

      The high number for the address that would have placed the building somewhere west of the Boat Basin gave it away. But otherwise plausible.