The Landmark Preservation Committee of New York City voted on Tuesday to designate 164 Harlem properties running from West 130th to West 132nd street a historical district. This move will serve to provide the many historic shops and townhomes protection from developers for years to come. Many of the rowhouses in the designated area were used during the Harlem Renaissance by notable artists and leaders at the time.
Meenakshi Srinivasan, the chair of the commission, said via a prepared statement that the preservation of the community is important due to its contributions historically to the social and political strides made in the city as a whole.
The LPC also noted that the cultural contributions of the area from the Harlem Renaissance to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60’s can never be forgotten. Gale Brewer, Borough President for Manhattan, says the Commission has also produced an interactive story map that will provide an illustration of the district’s influence with the use of maps, photos, and videos.
The decision to designate the area a historical landmark will next be up for a vote by the New York City Council and is expected to be approved.
Landmark status for the area would affect several notable locations between Seventh and Lenox Avenues. A few properties of note in the area is the home of musician Scott Joplin, the building that served as headquarters for the New Amsterdam Musical Association, and also the building that housed the Utopia Neighborhood Club’s offices. The UNC was a social club for black women that concentrated their efforts on health and educational services for children in the area.
The architecture for buildings in the area will be protected and include Queen Anne, Neo-Grec, Romanesque Revival, and Renaissance revival styles. The majority of buildings were built in the 19th century.
The 131st Street Block Association’s president Lloyd Williams, is a supporter of the move on the part of the commission and says it will work to prevent new owners of the properties from making alterations without approval from city officials.
Williams went on to express that the history of Harlem must be preserved to provide a context for the progression of the city at large. Williams finished by saying that it is of utmost importance to preserve the rich heritage of Harlem.