August 21, 2013
Honorable Robert Tierney, Chair
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Re: Landmark Designation: Banca Stabile Row, Little Italy, Manhattan
Dear Chair Tierney:
Manhattan’s Little Italy is well known throughout this country as our most historically important Italian American neighborhood. Today, there are only reminders of this once sprawling and culturally diverse community, which had greatly influenced our city’s political and cultural life.
The architectural and historic significance of Little Italy, a NYC Special Purpose Zoning District and part of the Chinatown and Little Italy National Register Historic District, is apparent from the area’s rows of historic buildings ranging in date from the early 19th to the early 20th century. Wandering the neighborhood’s streets, one is still able to envision Italian American immigrant life 100 years ago.
The heart of this area is around Mulberry and Grand Streets, where the Banca Stabile row at 181-189 Grand Street is located. This row originally dates from the 1830s. In the 1880s, the corner building at 189 Grand Street was converted to Banca Stabile. Like other local banks of its type, Banca Stabile played a central role in the residents’ lives. The row remains very much intact from its turn of the 20th century appearance. Notably, Banca Stabile’s historic banking hall also remains well preserved.
The Banca Stabile row is now under threat of demolition and redevelopment. The redevelopment will forever carve the heart out of Little Italy, not only destroying buildings that strongly contribute to the area’s history and architectural heritage, but inserting an out-of-scale, non-contextual building into an historic streetscape.
Unfortunately, the area’s Special Purpose Zoning and National Register district designations do not guarantee the preservation of Little Italy’s historic architecture. Therefore, we request that the Landmarks Preservation Commission move without delay to create a historic district to include the Banca Stabile row and the other historic buildings around this important intersection, as well as to review and calendar surrounding streets of intact historic buildings within Little Italy. Thank you.