Tuesday, October 9, 2018

No fences surround VIP Gardens

The Evergreen garden, originally planted 2011-14; this photo: June 2018
Gardens added by VIP in Isham Park share one feature: no fencing surrounds them, so that the experience of the landscape is not interrupted or privatized.

Below is a list of the gardens VIP has planted since the group formed in June 2009. A couple of links to blog posts describing their origin are included here:

The Memorial garden, planted in fall 2010; shown in summer 2018.
  • "The memorial" garden (in memory of the Isham family) at the circular stone terrace above Broadway; this has a bronze plaque detailing gifts of land made for the park by Isham family members. The area had no garden until this was planted by VIP in 2010 in advance of the Isham Park Centennial (September 29, 2012). Dorothy Rowan was NYC Parks Gardener for the initial planting. The garden consists of a concentric semi-circular strip around west side the circular stone terrace and its carved stone benches. See the post in this blog: http://volunteersishampark.blogspot.com/2010/12/fall-2010-volunteers-for-isham-park.html
  • "The evergreen" garden. A grouping of evergreen trees and shrubs in the north lawn west of the fence surrounding Bruce's Garden, planted by master gardener John Emmanuel in 2010. This was added to by VIP with NYC Parks gardeners, including Dorothy Rowan, in 2013-14 in advance of the Water Service Restoration project which had been funded by money allocated by then NYC Council Member Robert Jackson. Please note, this garden has recently been expanded as a curved border along the north end of the lawn almost to PTW.
"The Margin" garden along PTW, planted in 2009, this was taken in spring 2018
  • "The Triangle" garden at the beginning of the Park Terrace East Circle south of Bruce's Garden which was cleared of weeds and planted by VIP after the completion of the Water Service Restoration in 2016. This is at the location of the NYC Parks job box and water connection south of Bruce's Garden.
  • "The PTW Tray," Daffodils and Tulips were planted in this existing abandoned bed on the west side of PTW below the diagonal steps for Its My Park Day in October 2014.
Most of these gardens are edged with a ditch to divide them from lawns. This method was suggested by Bradley Romaker, NYC Parks Designer. Exceptions are the Margin and the Tray, which have barriers formed by existing features; the Tray had an existing low fence of railroad ties along its sidewalk and the Margin has just the edge of the sidewalk and some reinforcing Belgian Block or stones for much of its length, with the exception of a NYC Parks pipe-rail fence at the ramp-like entrance to the park.

Plants have been added over time in most of these.  VIP continues to maintain them and related paths and edges.  NYC Parks Gardener Walter Markham has given some plants, advice, and assistance since he came on board here in 2014.  He and longtime Inwood resident and early VIP Maria Lall are to be thanked for their work in the fenced gardens along the south Broadway entrance path, Isham Street, and Seaman Avenue and for their planting up the steps above the park's legendary Ginkgo.

News! Inwood may have its first small historic district close to Isham Park in the related "Park Terrace" area:

Monday, August 6, 2018

Landmarks Conservancy supports preservation for Inwood

In July 2018, the New York Landmarks Conservancy published an on-line statement of support for the preservation of Inwood's historic elements, including Isham and Inwood Hill Parks, covering much of the same material as the 2016 Request for Evaluation VIP submitted known as "Broadway Corridor Historic District for Inwood":


The NYC Council will vote to rezone Inwood this Wednesday August 8th. 
To  comment on the rezoning, please email Ydanis Rodriguez today (yrodriguez@council.nyc.gov)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Today: NYT's article on historic Broadway includes Isham Park & Inwood

Slide from the Broadway Corridor historic district proposed in 2016

   Today's New York Times has an article by Sam Roberts on front page of the Arts section (read the paper copy if you can) that supports some of the many historic elements in the VIP/IP proposed Broadway Corridor Historic District for Inwood!:


Will the new chair of the LPC see the light and correct the fact that there are no Historic Districts in Inwood today?

LPC designate a Broadway Corridor Historic District for Inwood!

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: https://www.dropbox.com/s/sao6tp3eamzyxdq/08-14-2017%20LPC%20letter%20re%20Broadway%20Corridor-Inwood%20MHD.jpg?dl=0

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: https://www.dropbox.com/s/d7s1n46wr4o9zwt/06-20-17%20LPC%20Rejection%20letter%20Inwood%20BC%20HD001.pdf?dl=0

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.").  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelanchier

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"

Narrative: https://www.dropbox.com/s/s9k9lx8gq9q0mhq/FINAL%2010-5-16%20Inwood%20HD%20RFE-narrative.pdf?dl=0