The Bowery Expecting Spot on National Register of Historic Places

Posted on: October 10th, 2011 at 9:33 am by

With the wrecking ball looming before 135 Bowery, and the loss of 35 Cooper Square still a bitter memory, there remains a silver lining. A glimmer of hope. This month, the State is expected to support a measure which will place the Bowery on the National Register of Historic Places. While the status is a step in a positive direction, it does not afford the protection of landmark status. Perhaps national recognition will help big development interests come to their senses…yeah, that was a joke.

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The New York Times just published a piece about the current state of the Bowery and the National Register designation. Resident and preservationist Kerri Culhane has been spearheading the effort, and the so-called paper of record interviewed her. Other shout-outs include the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors and the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council.

Some bytes:

The Bowery’s rapid transformation is behind a crusade to preserve what is left of its timeworn, low-rise landscape and something of its personality, the grit as well as the glitter. Two groups, the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors and the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, have been pressing to have the avenue — which stretches from Chatham Square in Chinatown to Cooper Square in the East Village — placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

That designation, which is expected to receive state support this month, would encourage the Bowery’s preservation by offering state and federal tax credits for rehabilitation that sustains a building’s character, even if its spaces are occupied by high-end boutiques and condos.

It would, however, fall a good deal short of offering the permanent protection of landmark status. So preservationists have identified two pristine blocks and have asked the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to label them historic districts, a request the commission is considering. Such a designation would mean that proposed alterations to the streetscape could be slowed or halted by official reviews. Both moves, preservationists hope, will put pressure on city officials.

The Bowery, she [Culhane] said, is the city’s oldest thoroughfare, with buildings from every decade since the American Revolution. Of the 241 buildings that she has counted, 10 percent are of relatively new construction.

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