NY Infirmary for Women and Children founder honored with plaque

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, speaks at the plaque unveiling. (Photo by Harry Bubbins)

On Monday, Elizabeth Blackwell, who founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, the first hospital to be run by and for women, was commemorated with the unveiling of a historic plaque at 58 Bleecker Street. Blackwell was also the first woman doctor in America.

The Greenwich Village address was chosen because it was the original site of the infirmary, which was later moved to East 15th Street in Stuyvesant Square. The infirmary in more recent years was incorporated into New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. The infirmary had originally operated out of a house that’s still standing, though it was originally numbered 64 Bleecker Street.

Built in 1822-1823, the Federal style house was erected for James Roosevelt, the great-grandfather of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who lived there until his death just ten years before Blackwell embarked on her groundbreaking effort. Blackwell’s hospital opened on May 12, 1857, the 37th birthday of Florence Nightingale, whom Blackwell had befriended earlier in her career. The hospital was open seven days a week and provided medical care for needy women and children free of charge.

Monday’s plaque unveiling, which took place almost 161 years to the day after the infirmary opened, was organized by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

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Opinion: Tech Hub another oversized development

May4 E 12th St buildings

These three 19th century buildings at 47 East 12th Street (left) and 827-831 Broadway are slated to be replaced with a 300-foot-tall office tower. (Photo courtesy of GVSHP)

 

By Andrew Berman, Executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

Previously unheard of development is streaming ahead in the blocks between Union Square and Astor Place, Fifth and Third Avenues. A 300 ft. tall luxury condo tower is rising on University Place and 12th Street. A 300 ft. tall office tower is planned for Broadway and 12th Street. A 120-room hotel for party-hopping millennials is going up on East 11th Street. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Why is this happening in a largely residential neighborhood known for its historic character and modest scale? Mostly because the area’s zoning dates to 1961, when the neighborhood was largely commercial, and tall towers rather than contextual development were in vogue. And although virtually everyone in the affected community, including elected officials, supports a rezoning we proposed that would put reasonable height limits in place, reinforce the area’s residential character, and add affordable housing incentives, the mayor adamantly opposes it.

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Developer of old Peter Stuyvesant Post Office still hopes to build higher

Former Post Office space (pictured last January) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Former Post Office space (pictured last January) (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The developer of a planned residential building at the site of the old Peter Stuyvesant Post Office is still hoping to add an additional four stories to what was originally supposed to be an eight-story structure.

Benenson Capital Partners, whose request for a required zoning variance to do this was shot down in July by a committee of Community Board 3, will next be heading to the Board of Standards and Appeals.

While the community board’s unanimous vote in opposition to the variance was just advisory, a decision made by the BSA would be official.

The developer had previously argued that an additional few floors was necessary to make the project economically viable, due to costs related to underground water conditions at the site.

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Preservationists oppose landmark deadline bill

By Sabina Mollot

A bill pending in the City Council that would impose strict deadlines on applications for property landmark status has drawn concern from preservation groups who are blasting it as having a “do or die” policy. This is because any projects that aren’t decided upon by deadline would be barred from reconsideration for five years.

The bill, known as Intro 775, had a hearing in the Council on Wednesday with many speakers scheduled, but there wasn’t a vote on it. If passed, the Landmarks Preservation Commission would have to hold a public hearing on any potentially landmarked property or scenic landmark within 180 days of it going on the calendar and then make a decision on its status within 180 days of the hearing.

Historic districts up for designation would have to be discussed at a hearing within a year after being put on the calendar, with the LPC given a year after that to come to a decision.

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