Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Webster Hall Gets Landmarked!

I know this is somewhat out of my usual ken, but I received an email today from the ever-industrious Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and I couldn't be happier for him and for New York. Read the contents below. I have left in all of the many hyperlinks provided in the email for your convenience.

And, well, I suppose I could be happier if Andrew got in touch, as we had become quite friendly, but why quibble in public? (Yes, I know, I'm quibbling in public.) Anyway, give this a read:

Dear Friend,

I wanted to let you know that yesterday the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated Webster Hall at 119 East 11th Street a New York City landmark. This is a designation GVSHP had strongly advocated for, and a building we had done a considerable amount of research on, which was shared with the LPC in order to help make that case. The LPC also designated three other sites in the East Village yesterday -- the former Children's Aid Society Home for Girls at 307 East 12th Street, a former synagogue at 242 East 7th Street, and a former public bath house at 538 East 11th Street -- all of which GVSHP also supported being landmarked.

This designation is so important because in addition to its architectural interest, Webster Hall embodies much about the social, political, and cultural history of downtown and the East Village. Originally a "hall for hire," from the late 19th century through World War II Webster Hall was the scene of labor rallies, drag balls, costume bacchanals, and political protests. After World War II, it became an important performance venue for emerging Latin artists and folk musicians, and then a recording studio used by Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Julie Andrews, and for the recording of soundtracks for Hello Dolly and Fiddler on the Roof. Additionally, the zoning for the site would easily allow Webster Hall to be replaced by a 20+ story dorm or hotel, a fate which has befallen too many of its neighbors; landmark preservation should ensure this never happens here.

Read coverage of Webster Hall's landmark designation in the Daily News, the NY Post, Metro NY, NY Sun, and United Press International.

Additionally, I thought you might be interested in a letter to the editor I wrote which was published in this week's Crain's NY in response to their recent editorial supporting the Related Companies plan for Pier 40 and the St. Vincent's/Rudin condo and hospital development plan -- see

To join GVSHP or support our preservation efforts, go to

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