100 Years of Preservation: A Conversation with Anthony C. Wood
Last week, GVSHP had the honor of hosting a public program “100 Years of Preservation: A Conversation with Anthony C. Wood”, founder of the New York Preservation Archive Project and author of Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City’s Landmarks.
GVSHP East Village & Special Projects Director Karen Loew led last Thursday’s intimate discussion on stage, with topics spanning the history of preservation efforts in NYC and examining the movement’s progress today in light of the law’s 50th anniversary.
During the one hour-long interview, Wood explained his take on the history of preservation in New York City prior to the passage of the Landmarks Law in 1965, touching upon specific events that affected the city’s cultural and environmental landscape, including the demolition of Penn Station and the era of Robert Moses. Wood argued these events galvanized significant public support and organized efforts for the passage of the Landmarks Law.
Wood attributed the rise of the city’s preservation movement, with powerful activists such as Jane Jacobs at the helm, to Moses’ overwhelmingly pro-development influence in New York City during the early-to-mid twentieth century . Wood remarked, “It took decades for the civic community to wake up, to realize how extreme Moses was willing to be, to accomplish his vision for New York.” Wood went on to state that Moses’ vision had “energized a generation of civic leaders”.
Wood and Loew also discussed current preservation debates, including preservation opposition from REBNY and NYU, and considered the future of preservation and the next generation of leaders.
The city has designated almost 1,400 individual landmarks, 117 interior landmarks, 10 scenic landmarks, 114 historic districts, and 20 historic district extensions located throughout all five boroughs since the Landmarks Law passed.
The entire program is available to watch on our Youtube page: