City to auction historic artifacts this month

July 11, 2011 11:23AM

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The Architectural Salvage Warehouse (source: PropertyShark)

The city will auction off a warehouse of artifacts from historic New York buildings gathered by the Landmarks Preservation Commission later this month, the New York Times reported. Once clear of artifacts, the Architectural Salvage Warehouse, at 337 Berry Street in Williamsburg, will be razed to give way to affordable housing.

The warehouse contains artifacts such as seats from the Audubon Ballroom, old signs from the Grand Central Terminal post office, limestone from the New York Butchers on 11th Avenue, cow statues that greeted dairy and slaughterhouse workers, a door from the historic townhouse at 148 Waverly Place and other pieces of New York City nostalgia collected by the LPC between 1980 and 2000. The entire lot will be sold in a sealed-bid auction July 21.

Of course, many are unhappy with the route the city is taking to unload the artifacts, and some claim the city itself isn’t aware of the value of some of the trinkets it has on its hands.

“The city’s cultural legacy is in that warehouse,” Suzanne Wasserman, director of the Gotham Center foe New York City History at the City University of New York, told the Times. “It seems a little insidious to be selling everything to the highest bidder.”

According to Lost New York, a better alternative would be to put individual items up for public sale, which would likely net the city more money and allow artifacts to be maintained by those who truly treasure them. The blog also notes that LPC stopped collecting the items the same year Mayor Bloomberg, a friend of developers who some allege doesn’t appreciate the city’s history, came into office. [NYT and Lost City]