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LPC Will Prioritize 30 NYC Sites for Landmark Status

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These were part of a list of 95 items that had been backlogged by the Landmarks Preservation Commission over the past 50 years

The PepsiCola sign in Queens was one of the 30 items the Landmarks Preservation Commission prioritized for the upcoming year.
The PepsiCola sign in Queens was one of the 30 items the Landmarks Preservation Commission prioritized for the upcoming year.
Photo by Will Femia for Curbed.

Thirty items including parts of the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, the iconic PepsiCola sign in Queens, and the Bergdorf Goodman building on Fifth Avenue, in Manhattan will be considered for landmark status by the end of the year.

On Tuesday, the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission deliberated on 95 items that been backlogged over a fifty year period. The commission chose to either prioritize items for designation by year's end; issue a no action designation, which means that items were removed from the calendar for now but can added back to it at a later time without prejudice; or remove the item from consideration completely on grounds that it now lacked merit.

Breaking it down by borough, two items were considered for landmarking in the Bronx, six in Brooklyn, three in Queens, seven on Staten Island, and 12 in Manhattan.

Only five items were completely removed from consideration, and four of them happened to be on Staten Island.

Among the notable items that were postponed included Union Square Park, seven theaters along 42nd Street, and the Sailor's Snug Harbor Historic District on Staten Island.

A decision on Union Square Park was postponed.
Photo by Chensiyuan via Wikipedia

Commissioners argued that Union Square has been renovated several times since it first opened in 1839, and that it retains almost nothing of the original design. One of the commissioners however argued that it should be designated solely because of its cultural significance to the city. In the end commissioners decided to postpone the debate on the matter.

When it came to the theaters, the commissioners argued that the organization, New 42nd Street, was already in charge of maintaining the character of the theaters and that they didn't need a landmark designation at the moment.

For Sailor's Snug Harbor, eight of the 22 buildings on the site are already landmarked, and commissioners argued that since the entire site is city owned, there is already a great degree of regulation, and landmarking the entire site is not an urgent matter.

As was anticipated, items like the PepsiCola sign, some buildings within the Greenwood Cemetery, and the IRT Powerhouse did make the cut.

Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where three buildings will be considered for landmarking.
Photo by Rhododendrites via Wikipedia

There was some debate over the PepsiCola sign however. The Commission does not usually rule on signs, regardless of their cultural or historic significance, and in fact even if the sign is landmarked, the Commission will have no say on the lettering. For example, as a commissioner wryly pointed out during the meeting, a beer company could purchase the sign from Pepsi and put up its own lettering. Where the Commission would step in would be the actual movement of the sign, so, continuing with the same beer example, if the beer company wanted to move the sign to install its own lettering it would have to come before the Landmarks Commission.

But that is all a technical matter, the commissioners at the meeting ensured. They've had extensive discussions with Pepsi, and with the residents of the nearby apartments, and both wish to keep the sign, and as a result the Landmarks Commission has decided to make an exception with its consideration.

The Bergdorf Goodman store on Fifth Avenue
Photo by ingfbruno via Wikipedia.

In regards to Greenwood Cemetery, the Commission forego considering the entire 478-acre site, but instead chose three buildings on the site: the chapel, the visitor's cottage, and the caretaker's building. The gothic main gate is already a city landmark.

At first, the Commission had only chosen to prioritize 28 items, but by the end of the meeting that number increased to 30 with the addition of the Lakeman House [Warning:PDF] on Staten Island, and Excelsior Power Company Building in the Financial District in Manhattan.

In the next step of this procedure, the Commission will now deliberate the landmark status for some of these 30 items on April 12 this year.

A full list of the items that were deliberated on are available on the Commission's website.