The Real Deal New York

Preservationists call for Lower East Side historic district

Groups made a formal request to the Landmarks Preservation Commission this month

June 23, 2015 08:30AM

Orchard Street on the Lower East Side

Orchard Street on the Lower East Side

Two preservation groups, along with 18 other organizations, formally called on the Landmarks Preservation Commission this month to designate a Lower East Side historic district.

The proposed historic area falls south of Delancey Street, and the groups claim it offers a living lesson in immigrant life in the famous neighborhood and various types of housing that were conceived in response to squalid conditions — including pre-law, old-law, and new-law.

“Its low-scale tenement buildings reveal the changing character of urban housing for lower income New Yorkers during the mid- nineteenth to early-twentieth centuries,” the groups wrote in their request, according to The Lo-Down. “Like no other neighborhood in the city, its intact streetscapes offer a brick-and-mortar lesson in both the historical plight of the immigrant poor and society’s response to those horrid conditions.”

While the Lower East Side is listed on the state and national registers of historic places, these designations do not offer protections to buildings. Several individual buildings in the proposed boundaries have already been designated as landmarks.

The Tenement Museum launched a similar effort in 2006 but abandoned it in response to opposition from some building owners. The museum is not listed as a supporter of the current proposal.

In October 2012, Landmarks expanded an existing East Village-Lower East Side historic district. [The Lo-Down] — Tess Hofmann