As of this past Tuesday I live in the East Village Historic District. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has decided that the area from 2nd Street to St. Mark’s Place between roughly 1st and 3rd Avenues in addition to a little chunk from 6th to 7th Streets between 1st Avenue and Avenue A (my chunk!) has a worthwhile place in architectural history.
“The chairman of the commission, Robert B. Tierney, called the buildings in the district “an incredibly intact collection” that encapsulates the American immigrant experience — successive waves, from Germans to Eastern Europeans to Latinos, made the area their first home — and pays homage to the neighborhood’s central role in the history of 20th Century Bohemia.” –From the City Room blog
The Adas Le Israel Anshei Meseritz synagogue, built-in 1910, may not benefit though as their membership has dwindled to just two dozen and they lack the funds to maintain the property. Their effort to tear down the building, retain the neo-classical facade, and allow an apartment building to be built with a space for the synagogue may not happen. The churches and synagogues in the new historic district opposed the designation for this reason. Their property values could change and make it even more difficult for them to maintain their buildings and congregations, parishes, members.
As someone who has rented an apartment in the neighborhood for the last 8 years I feel proud and sad. I love my neighborhood. Many restaurants, bars and other businesses have come and gone. Some buildings do look rundown on the outside and the interior of my apartment falls into that category, maybe unfinished is a better description, so should they be saved or torn down for new shiny, glass buildings? If there was a way for things to get polished but still retain their original elements, then I’d be for it. I like the East Village the way it is because I’ve grown accustomed to it. When they built the new Cooper Union building on 7th Street and 3rd Avenue there were the usual lovers and haters. I fell into the like group. I like new buildings, and I like old ones too.
We will have to see how this new historic designation affects the neighborhood. My building was one of the first to go co-op so I already live in something historic but now to be in a whole little world, well the excitement hasn’t worn off yet.