Rezoning the East Side of the Bowery

March 31, 2010

Amanda Burden
Chair
NYC Department of City Planning
22 Reade Street
New York, NY  10007-1216

Dear Ms. Burden:

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative (LESPI) strongly supports rezoning the east side of the Bowery in order to help protect this historic thoroughfare from further overscaled and inappropriate development.    The Bowery is a nationally known street that has had a central and at times notorious role in New York’s history, dating back to its earliest years.  Its very rich cultural and architectural history is still strongly reflected in the mix of low to mid rise buildings that line it.   

From its beginnings as a rural route to its bawdy 19th century mix of taverns and bordellos, its 20th century impoverishment, its role in punk and alternative music history, and now its current mix of the chic and economically struggling, the Bowery has encompassed the diverse and contradictory characteristics of the city itself.   The scale and historic resources of this street must be preserved now before the next real estate boom leads to more senseless demolition and overdevelopment.  If this street’s historic scale and physical fabric are lost, the entire city will lose a critical and tangible link to its past.  Notably the NY State Historic Preservation Office recently determined this area to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

LESPI is a group of local residents and preservationists who want to preserve what remains of the historic architecture and streetscapes of Manhattan’s Lower East Side.  LESPI is particularly interested in protecting the Lower East Side’s historic streetscapes.

We urge the Planning Commission to extend the rezoning of the Lower East Side to include the Bowery’s east side, in order to help protect it from the forces of homogenized and insensitive development that run rampant in so much of our city.

Sincerely,

Richard Moses
Steering Committee Member

LESPI Steering Committee:
Britton Baine
Katy McNabb
Richard Moses
Marci Reaven
Carolyn Ratcliffe
Philip Van Aver

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