Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Letter received from the LPC today

From the Broadway Corridor Historic District for Inwood slide presentation.

Today, August 16, 2017, another letter regarding the Broadway Corridor Historic District for Inwood arrived from the LPC. It was essentially a restatement of the rationale given in their earlier letter.  In fact, points and a request in the letter sent to them on August 3rd were not addressed and the southern boundary of the district was given incorrectly as "beginning roughly at Dyckman Street."

Link to the LPC's August 16th letter:

Much of the letter sent to the LPC on August 3rd was about the southern boundary of Inwood, which we described as beginning at 193rd and Broadway.  Above and below are two of the slides included in the Broadway Corridor Inwood Historic District slide presentation which should have made the boundaries very clear to the LPC.  The boundaries were also specifically referenced in the letter sent to them on August 3rd.  Please note: the area below Dyckman Street has been excluded from the rezoning of Inwood.
From the Broadway Corridor Historic District for Inwood slide presentation

For access to the earlier letters referenced here and the submission of materials to the LPC please see the VIP blog posts of June 14th and August 3rd 2017.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Letters regarding the VIP Historic District proposal for Inwood

Earlier this summer, we posted about a Request for Evaluation submitted to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for a proposed historic district for Inwood.  About a week later, VIP received a letter rejecting the request.

Today, we sent a response to the the LPC's letter objecting to the rejection and requesting more information. In order to make the whole process available to the public, we have added the related letters to the same public Dropbox files used earlier (see the June 14, 2017 blog post for the earlier links).  The links are also referenced at the end of theVIP response letter quoted below:

Scan of the LPC letter:

PDF of a response letter to the LPC about the matter from the Historic Districts Council:

The text of the response letter to the NYC LPC from VIP/IP:

"Thank you for your recent letter concerning the Broadway Corridor Historic District for Inwood, Manhattan.  We were both surprised and disappointed to find that the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) stated:
“…the recommended historic district lacks the necessary cohesiveness and sense of place necessary to define a potential historic district.  This is based on the different typologies (apartment buildings, smaller houses, commercial and manufacturing buildings, substations, various parks, playfields, a large bridge, among others), as well as the wide range of building ages, styles and scales found in the area.”

The LPC has designated large districts with “different typologies” and “building ages, styles and scales” in other NYC neighborhoods both recently* and in the past.  The LPC has redrawn boundaries or excluded some elements as part of the designation process.  We ask that the LPC treat the Broadway Corridor Historic District proposed for Inwood in a similar manner, as Inwood currently has no designated historic district. 

Inwood was chosen as one of the Historic District Council’s first “Six to Celebrate” communities in 2011. At that time a Reconnaissance Survey database of the area was created. In early 2012, a meeting was held at which the LPC staff was asked for assistance with designation.  Finally, the Request for Evaluation (RFE) for the Broadway Corridor district was submitted in October 2016, during the recent Economic Development Corporation (EDC) attempt to rezone Inwood.

The proposed Broadway Corridor district recalls the 1939 WPA Guide description of Inwood** which includes the triangular portion in the valley below Dyckman Street beginning at West 193rd Street, an area not included in the 2011 database study or the EDC’s rezoning plan.  It is our contention that built Inwood is still much as it was described in the 1939 WPA Guide. The proposed district also includes civic, commercial, and residential buildings east of Broadway.  We are aware that other RFEs have recently been submitted for Inwood.  However, those RFE’s do not include the many historic elements in the areas south of Dyckman Street and east of Broadway. These portions of Inwood should be part of any large historic district. 

The LPC should be open to working with Inwood and giving some feedback, especially in light of the rezoning and especially because LPC Chair Srinivasan has publicly stated that the Commission is interested in the rezoning areas.  To eliminate Inwood in its entirety from consideration is unacceptable, as it is at odds with the agency's stated priorities.

We ask that the LPC provide the community with actionable information about how current or future historic district proposals for Inwood may move forward. 

Volunteers for Isham Park / Inwood Preservation

cc: LPC Commissioner & Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NYC Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Director of the Historic Districts Council Simeon Bankoff, Community Board 12 Manhattan Land Use Committee Chair Wayne Benjamin

*Related recent designation of a large historic district with “different typologies” and “diversity of building ages, styles and scales” similar to those of the Broadway Corridor Inwood, Manhattan Historic District:
From the LPC’s Morningside Heights Historic District narrative designated February 21, 2017:
“The Commission furthers finds that among its special qualities, the Morningside Heights Historic District contains a large collection of architecturally significant examples of residential building types including apartment houses, row houses and fraternity houses, and ecclesiastical buildings dating from the 1890s to the 1920s; that the development of the area took place over a very brief period of time; that the period of greatest development coincided with the planned arrival and opening of the IRT subway in 1904; that as a result of this late development the dominant housing type is the apartment house; that these apartment houses range in height from six to 15 stories; that they are executed in a variety of historicist styles including Renaissance Revival, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Georgian Revival, and Secessionist…”

**1939 WPA GUIDE description:


Please note, Volunteers for Isham Park’s blog contains dropbox links to the materials submitted for the Broadway Corridor, Inwood, Manhattan Historic District":


Monday, June 19, 2017

Juneberries in Isham Park

Juneberries in Isham Park today.
This coming Wednesday June 21st celebrate the Summer Solstice in Isham Park where juneberries, along with mulberries, are now ripe.

"Juneberry" is only one of the many names these native shubs go by: "shadbush, serviceberry, shadblow, wild sugarplum, saskatoon. The official name is Amelanchier: ("The name saskatoon originated from a Cree noun misâskwatômina (misāskwatōmina, misaaskwatoomina) for Amelanchier alnifolia.").

They are delicious! Thank you so much to former Inwood resident, first nations Cree Harlan Pruden for sharing his plants knowledge!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Proposed Historic District for Inwood

Isham family Memorial Terrace in Isham Park, November 2014.

Last October, Volunteers for Isham Park (VIP) sent a Request for Evaluation (RFE) for Inwood to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.  The RFE included a three page narrative and a Powerpoint presentation.

The proposed district is a significant step in the process begun in 2011 when Inwood was selected as one of the first communities for the Historic Districts Council's new "Six to Celebrate" program.

On May 3, 2017, the narrative and the Powerpoint from the RFE was presented at the CB12 Manhattan Land Use Committee meeting. 

We have discovered that the files for the RFE can be shared via a "public" "Dropbox" link.  We hope you will have a look and, if you like what you see, support the effort. 

The proposed district is titled:
 "Broadway Corridor Historic District, Inwood, Manhattan"



Friday, April 14, 2017

First VIP post of 2017

One year ago today, VIP posted about the little Dutchman's Breeches blooming in Inwood Hill Park.

Thanks to a trial run of Nancy Bruning's upcoming Forest Fitness Class, we learned on Wednesday that they are blooming once again!  Spicebush is too, creating a golden haze throughout the Clove near the rock formation known as Shorakappock.

Nancy's Forest Fitness Class starts next Monday, April 17th
12 noon to 1:00 pm
Meet at noon at the Nature Center - about a block west of, but inside the Indian Road and West 218th street entrance to Inwood Hill Park (across from the Indian Road Cafe).

Facebook link:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Preserve Inwood! May 7th Jane's Walk!

Join us on May 7 for an on-the-ground tour of the neighborhood and discuss these issues with its citizens!
4650 Broadway, site of proposed 27 story development.  
Built in 1926, this is one of three remaining buildings in Manhattan 
by Detroit-based, prolific architect Albert Kahn.
Join Inwood residents and members of Volunteers for Isham Park and Transportation Alternatives for a walk focused on the design history of Inwood, the community at the northern tip of Manhattan. The tour will also highlight potential changes to its cohesive Art Deco streetscapes and WPA-funded park spaces, as well as proposed improvements to the existing street infrastructure. Capture it while you can: attendees will also see architect Albert Kahn's uptown showroom for the now-defunct Packard Motor Company (above), this building could be lost as only one negative result of requested up-zoning. 
 May 7th 2016
9:00 am
Existing conditions: Ft. Tryon Park. 4650 Broadway 
visibility study by Saratoga Associates

Proposed 23-story tower from Ft. Tryon Park. 4650 Broadway 
visibility study by Saratoga Associates

     The Historic Districts Council chose Inwood as one of the Six to Celebrate neighborhoods in 2011 for its historical, architectural and environmental attributes. Nearly half of the land in Inwood is public park space which preserves natural terrain and geological features. Thus, Inwood’s distinctive development pattern and architecture was created in relation to the original landscape of Manhattan Island.  
     One of Inwood and Washington Heights’ treasured historical resources is Fort Tryon Park, a 67-acre park which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of only ten Scenic Landmarks in all of New York City.  Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. the park’s landscape is unrivaled in its romantic views of the Hudson River, the Palisades, and its rich topography.
      However, the super-tall development found in other parts of the city has arrived above 200th Street in Manhattan in this low-scale neighborhood. Ft. Tryon Park and the Inwood community is currently threatened by two proposed buildings which will irreversibly alter the experience of the park and the neighborhood at large.  The proposed upzoning for 4650 Broadway will be a 27-story building abutting the park, four times taller than the surrounding buildings’ heights. The other proposal, 4566 Broadway, would allow a 19-story development (increase in FAR from 3.44 to 9.96). 
   Click here to send a letter saying "NO" to spot-rezoning and require an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) of the cumulative impacts of these projects, and undertake a comprehensive plan to develop appropriately scaled development, similar to the City’s InwoodNYC plan immediately to the north.

This Jane's Walk is co-sponsored by the Historic Districts Council.  See their post (which is heavily quoted above) on the upcoming Inwood walk here:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Jane's Walk in Inwood Saturday morning May 7th

Tower of the Cloisters Museum, Ft. Tryon Park, viewed from Isham Park.
Please come walk & talk about Inwood on a Jane's Walk to be held on Saturday May 7th from 9:00 to 11:00am.  Over 200 Jane's Walks are to be held on the weekend of May 6-8, 2016 in NYC.  The Municipal Art Society is the city organizer for New York City's Jane's Walks, which are held annually in cities all over the world.  Below is the link to the Inwood walk on the MAS site:

Who was Jane Jacobs? MAS:
"She was an urban activist, thinker, and writer. Though she did not have formal training as an urban planner, her work was fueled by a deep love for cities and the people who live in them. Her approach to urban planning—based on observation and pedestrian experience rather than theoretical principles—was radical during an age when top-down planning was the status quo.
What is she famous for? Jane became the voice of the opposition to urban renewal and “slum clearance” planning practices that were popular in cities during the 1960s.
She organized a grassroots effort to thwart Robert Moses’s proposed “Lower Manhattan Expressway” project, which was set to destroy the historic fabric of SoHo and Greenwich Village.
In 1961, she published her most influential book, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities."

Who was Robert Moses?:
Robert Moses as remembered today needs no introduction (see comments above). However in 1936, the American Scenic & Historic Preservation Society gave Moses the prestigious Cornelius Armory Pugsley [gold] Medal for work he had accomplished on parkways and in parks up to that date. The Art Deco era improvement in Inwood begun under Moses that very year was completed by WPA workers, architects, landscape architects, and engineers who designed and constructed parkway and parkland features in relation to historic roads or pathways and the last remaining natural landscape of Manhattan Island. Many features of the 1930s improvement and many related surrounding Art Deco era residential and commercial buildings are still extant in Inwood.  

Who is the MAS? MAS:
"The MAS advocates for a more livable city. Through policy reports and public programs, we work to protect the best of New York’s existing landscape, from landmarks and historic districts to public open spaces. With visionary initiatives like the Alliance for a New Penn Station, MAS also helps shape thoughtful planning and design for New York’s future.  MAS became the New York City organizer for Jane’s Walk in 2011.  MAS is committed to highlighting the importance of Jane Jacob’s legacy year-round. Her legacy inspires our community-based planning work, such as our popular Livable Neighborhoods Program."

Please note: This Jane's Walk is initiated by members of Volunteers for Isham Park who will meet up with members of Transportation Alternatives. Co-sponsored by the Historic Districts Council who in 2011 selected Inwood as one of the HDC's first "Six to Celebrate" communities in NYC.

Who is Transportation Alternatives? TA:

To see all MAS organized Jane's Walks in NYC for 2016 go to: