Designating West End Avenue a Historic District sign now

We, the Undersigned, write to strongly urge you to designate Manhattan's West End Avenue, between 70th Street and 107th Street a Historic District. West End Avenue is one of the most distinctive residential avenues in New York City and it deserves and meets the criteria for Historic District status. Already designated are blocks between 75th Street and 78th Street and those between 87th and 95th Streets. We urge the Commission to extend and expand the Historic District to include the blocks down to West 70th Street and up to West 107th Street.

West End Avenue is lined primarily with Pre-War apartment buildings of unified height; most are approximately twelve to fifteen stories. These buildings were erected in the 1910's and 1920's by a small group of acclaimed architects specializing in apartment-house construction in that era. Spread intermittently between some of these unified apartment buildings are historic townhouses that predate the construction of 1910 1920.

As described in a recent New York Times article discussing the movement to preserve the avenue, "[s]ince the 1920's, West End has presented the same sleepy procession of ornamented brick and limestone 15-story apartment buildings, with an occasional townhouse from the 1890's." NY Times, May 18, 2008 ("A Bid to Shield a Row of Sturdy Soldiers" by Alex Mindlin).

Even when West End Avenue was first being developed, the Avenue seemed unique. In 1888, an organization called the West End Association declared that "West End Avenue, alone of all city avenues, has a chance of remaining a site of private residences exclusively and permanently." (Robert Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman: "New York 1880Architecture and Urbanism in the Gilded Age"; Monacelli Press, New York 1999; p. 759).

Indeed, the beautiful and unique buildings on West End Avenue come together in a cohesive way to create a distinct sense of place. These buildings are important reminders of the history of early construction on the Upper West Side. According to historians, West End Avenue was developed "in a short period of time by developers with a shared vision . . . ." (Id.) This shared vision resulted in a "unification" that was due to both "building type" as well as the builders' ". . . shared sense of that area's image of urban domesticity, comparable to that of London's West End." (Id.) As such, West End Avenue ". . . exuded an aura of overall aesthetic intentionality that was unrivaled in Gilded Age New York." (Id.) While walking along West End Avenue, one sees that this aura of Gilded Age cohesiveness continues to exist to this day over 120 years later!

For these reasons, we, the Undersigned support the application to designate West End Avenue a historic district. We urge the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to find West End Avenue worthy of a landmarks preservation designation of a Historic District.

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Edna WoodBy:
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NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

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