If your neighborhood is inside a historic district – or if you wish it were – there’s an organization that should be on your radar. The Historic Districts Council is a nonprofit that has worked, since 1970, to preserve historic neighborhoods, buildings, and public spaces throughout New York City. It has been instrumental in the creation of almost every one of the city’s 143 historic districts.
In an effort to improve access to its sizable resources, the HDC has just launched a new, improved website that makes it easy to peruse its preservation library, maps, expert testimony before the Landmarks Preservation Commission, ways to get involved in historic preservation, and much more. Click here to visit the website.
“We redid the website because the old one was dated and hard to navigate,” says Michelle Arbulu, HDC’s communications director. “We have a lot of content, and we wanted to make it more accessible. A lot of what we do is working with neighborhood groups who want to become landmarked, helping them navigate the Landmarks Preservation Commission. In existing historic districts, we help people who feel a certain alteration shouldn’t be happening.”
An HDC committee reviews all applications for changes to landmarks, which include individual landmarked buildings, historic districts, interior landmarks (the first floor of the Empire State Building), and scenic landmarks (Central Park).
In one of the website’s more poignant images, picketers march outside the old Penn Station in 1963, fighting to save it from the wrecking ball. In the black-and-white picture, the men wear suits and ties; the women wear white gloves and pearls. They carry signs that read ACTION NOT APATHY and SAVE PENN STATION. As history has shown, you cannot win every battle, but the HDC is convinced it’s possible to win the war against senseless demolition.
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