Citing racist history, banned NYC developer tries to block landmarking of his Tin Pan Alley buildings

Preservationists claim Yair Levy is distorting history

New York /
Apr.April 30, 2019 09:30 AM
Yair Levy and 47-55 West 28th Street (Credit: Wikipedia)

Yair Levy and 47-55 West 28th Street (Credit: Wikipedia)

Tin Pan Alley, a stretch of West 28th Street that was once the center of America’s popular music industry, is being considered for a landmark designation, and one landlord is fighting back in an unorthodox way.

Representatives of banned developer Yair Levy claim that racist music produced on the block around the turn of the 20th century make it unsuitable for landmark designation, the New York Post reported.

“Who wants to be known as the buildings that brought [racist] songs to America?” Ken Fisher, who represents a trust controlled by Levy’s family, told the Post. “It’s not a coincidence that most of the Confederate statues went up just as these songs became popular.”

To bolster the landlord’s case, Fisher commissioned a 39-page report from historian Andrew Alpern (author of “Luxury Apartment Houses of Manhattan: An Illustrated History”) to highlight the neighborhood’s ties to racist music from the post-Civil War era.

In addition to classics such as “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and “God Bless America”, Tin Pan Alley was also the source of songs with titles like “N—-r, N—-r Never Die” and “All C–ns Look Alike To Me.”

But preservationists claim the report is a distortion of history, and ignores the presence of African American and Jewish songwriters in the area who played a major role in the development of American music.

“He’s hired a contract historian who has written a dubious report that relies on second- hand information to dispute the historical importance of the district,” Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the Historic Districts Council, said.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission is scheduled to hold its first hearing Tuesday, and has up to a year to issue a decision.

Levy, who received a lifetime ban from selling condos and co-ops in 2011, picked up the five row houses between 47 and 55 West 28th Street in 2014. [NYP] — Kevin Sun


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
(iStock)
Job recovery sputters, but hospitality & leisure add hiring
Job recovery sputters, but hospitality & leisure add hiring
Cushman & Wakefield CEO Brett White (Cushman)
Cushman eyeing M&A opportunities post-pandemic
Cushman eyeing M&A opportunities post-pandemic
Andrew Yang (Getty, iStock)
Yang targets vacant lots with $900 million tax plan
Yang targets vacant lots with $900 million tax plan
Ron Burkle and Andrew Zobler with The NoMad New York. (Google Maps, Getty)
NoMad Hotel heads back to the auction block
NoMad Hotel heads back to the auction block
Donald Trump and 40 Wall Street (iStock, Sterlfilms/Wikimedia)
40 Wall’s valuation chop means tax savings for Trump Org
40 Wall’s valuation chop means tax savings for Trump Org
Google CEO Sundar Pichai (Getty, iStock)
Google’s hybrid model will allow 20% of employees to work remotely
Google’s hybrid model will allow 20% of employees to work remotely
Illustration of Amazon's Jeff Bezos (Photo illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)
No room in the warehouse: Amazon fuels shortage
No room in the warehouse: Amazon fuels shortage
RXR Realty's Scott Rechler with 75 Rockefeller Plaza (Getty, David Shankbone/Wikimedia)
RXR Realty serves American Girl with a lawsuit
RXR Realty serves American Girl with a lawsuit
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...