The First Monday in October, Another Day Without Landmark Protections in the South Village

The First Monday in October, Another Day Without Landmark Protections in the South Village

Today, the first Monday in October, is the traditional start of the new United States Supreme Court session.  This year the court is expected to have an incredibly full roster, dealing with cases ranging from the new health care law to same-sex marriage to the status of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Supreme Court of the United States.

These are of course issues of interest to all Americans, but why the mention on Off the Grid?

Sonia Sotomayor, appointed to the Supreme Court by President Obama in 2009, was not only the first Latino/a Supreme Court Justice, only the third woman appointed to the court, and an inspirational story of a kid raised in the housing projects of the Bronx who reached the highest levels of jurisprudence in the United States.  She was also a resident of our very own South Village.

Sonia Sotomayor nomination announcement, with Vice President Biden and President Obama.

In fact, Sotomayor was nominated and appointed to the Supreme Court at about the same time that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) finally took up consideration of the first third of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s proposed South Village Historic District.  The South Village — the historically immigrant, working-class and largely Italian-American section of Greenwich Village south of Washington Square Park and West 4th Street — was left entirely out of the Greenwich Village Historic District designated by the LPC in 1969, though as early as the 1960’s Jane Jacobs and other local preservationists had sought to have the area protected.

GVSHP picked up the cause again and approached the LPC about it in 2002; performed exhaustive research about every building the neighborhood to help get the LPC to consider landmark designation and submitted a formal proposal and 80-page history of the area in 2006; and in 2010 the LPC finally designated most of the first third of the district we proposed, largely between 7th Avenue South and 6th Avenue, West 4th and Houston Streets, including the section of the South Village where Justice Sotomayor lived (though her actual building, built in the 1980's and therefore lacking in historic architectural significance, was neatly carved outside of the designated district).Mills House No. 1 (1896, Ernest Flagg), now the Atrium Apartments -- a remarkable example of early reform housing in New York, in the undesignated South Village.

Since then, however, in spite of years of effort and unceasing threats to the built environment of the neighborhood, the LPC is yet to move forward on considering the remaining two-thirds of the proposed district.

St. Anthony of Padua Church (1888), on Sullivan Street in the undesignated portion of the South Village -- the oldest extant Italian-American Church in the nation.

To see some images of which buildings in the South Village are now protected by landmark designation and which still are not, click HERE.  To help get the South Village landmarked, click HERE.

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Andrew Berman

Andrew Berman has been the Executive Director of GVSHP since 2002.

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