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A New Tool Maps the NYC Landmarks Near You

The Discover NYC Landmarks interactive map from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)
The Discover NYC Landmarks interactive map from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)

Last month, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to recommend 30 of the sites from its backlog of nearly 100 as potential landmarks. The decision followed controversy over a proposal to clear the backlog entirely. This week, in an effort LPC states is part of a greater attempt “to bring greater transparency, efficiency, and public access to the agency,” the organization is visualizing the city’s pending and existing landmarks in the Discover NYC Landmarks map.

It’s a basic design, powered by ArcGIS, pinning the individual, interior, and scenic landmarks with dots, and shading in the historic districts. Each accesses brief information on the landmark, with an image to click to a PDF of its designation report.

It’s an easy tool to assess which landmarks are near you, or which you’d like to explore, and also reveals the density of landmarks, and areas where they are lacking. For instance, East New York, which is rich with historic architecture, is thin on landmarks, although it received an addition with the East New York Savings Bank earlier this month. The map is as much a way to see what’s not protected as what is. And of what is, there are many important sites of art and architecture to be discovered. In that spirit, here are five NYC landmarks of visual culture often overlooked, one for each borough:

IRT Subway System Interiors

IRT Subway System landmark at Astor Place (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)
IRT Subway System landmark at Astor Place (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)

The subway stations on the former IRT line in Manhattan, which date from 1899 to 1908, are the city’s oldest (surviving) underground transit, and they have the Gilded Age glamor to match. From the old City Hall station with its Guastavino tiles, to the terra-cotta beavers at Astor Place, the interiors of these stations were designed as a point of civic pride by George L. Heins and Christopher Grant LaFarge, and they’ve been landmarked since 1979. (The best resource on their art are the Silver Connections books published, and illustrated, by Philip Ashforth Coppola.)

Old City Hall Station
Old City Hall Station on the IRT line (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Green-Wood Cemetery Gate

The gate of Green-Wood Cemetery on Discovery NYC Landmarks (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)
The gate of Green-Wood Cemetery on Discovery NYC Landmarks (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)

While Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn is not itself a landmark, its gate is. The sculpturally beautiful Gothic arch that presides over the entrance at 25th Street and Fifth Avenue appears like the front of a cathedral, guiding visitors from the land of the living to that of the dead. Built from 1861 to 1865 under architects Richard Upjohn & Son, the arch was designated a landmark in 1966. (It’s also a year-round residence of some wild parrots.)

Gate of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)
Gate of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

Bronx Post Office

Bronx Post Office on Discover NYC Landmarks (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)
Bronx Post Office on Discover NYC Landmarks (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)

A more recent designation was given to the interior of the Bronx General Post Office in the Bronx, the lobby of which is covered with 1930s murals by Ben Shahn, with assistance from his wife Bernarda Bryson Shahn. The Depression-era murals show images of American industry, as well as the poet Walt Whitman, and were in danger of being sold in 2013. LPC added the interior protection in December of that year.

One of the murals in the Bronx Post Office by Ben Shahn, showing a textile worker with factory buildings (via National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia)
One of the murals in the Bronx Post Office by Ben Shahn, showing a textile worker with factory buildings (via National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia)

Marine Air Terminal

Marine Terminal on Discovery NYC Landmarks (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)
Marine Terminal on Discovery NYC Landmarks (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)

If you ever have a long layover at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, the murals of the Marine Air Terminal are an unheralded gem. The 1940 WPA murals were painted by James Brooks, showing the history of human flight. And although they were painted over in the 1950s, they were later restored by 1980, and they received landmarking that year.

The Marine Air Terminal at Laguardia Airport (photo by Steven Bornholtz/Wikimedia)
The Marine Air Terminal at Laguardia Airport (photo by Steven Bornholtz/Wikimedia)

Alice Austen House

Alice Austen House on Discover NYC Landmarks (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)
Alice Austen House on Discover NYC Landmarks (screenshot by the author for Hyperallergic)

The Alice Austen House is now a museum celebrating Staten Island photographer Alice Austen, who died in 1952, but its history goes back to its construction in the 18th century. Designated as a landmark in 1969, the home was nicknamed “Clear Comfort,” a tribute to its serene view that’s survived centuries on the New York Harbor.

The Alice Austen House on Staten Island (photo by Elisa Rolle/Wikimedia)
The Alice Austen House on Staten Island (photo by Elisa Rolle/Wikimedia)

h/t Curbed

Discover NYC Landmarks is available to use online through the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

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