Testimony: East 10th Street Historic District

January 17, 2012 

Good afternoon. My name is Richard Moses and I am President of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, also known as LESPI. 

I want to start by saying that LESPI strongly and unequivocally supports landmark designation for the Proposed East 10th Street Historic District. 

East 10th Street between Avenues A and B is one of if not the most significant blockfront in the East Village. This exceptional collection of historic structures has survived in remarkably good condition over the years. The buildings run a gamut of mid 19th to early 20th century types and styles that are a fascinating microcosm of the important architectural and social transformations that took place in the East Village at that time. Moreover, this street’s commanding presence at the north end of Tompkins Square Park – considered to be the “heart” of the East Village – provides a wonderful iconic view from within the park and serves as a landmark to passersby in the truest sense of the word.

In addition to its rich architecture, the East Village / Lower East Side is nationally known for its immigration, artistic, and political cultural history. It is essential that as a city we protect the relatively few historic streetscapes that still survive here. The proposed East 10th Street Historic District is one such blockfront that is now deservedly at the front of the line for landmark designation.

The East Village’s historic architecture has been and continues to be under a sustained assault from real estate development that typically does not respect this neighborhood’s unique heritage. As you know, in 2008 the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed Manhattan’s Lower East Side – which historically included the East Village – as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, and since then the destruction has only accelerated. Without landmark protection, the historic Lower East Side including the East Village will be virtually eliminated through demolition and architectural defacement. The community is well aware of this danger: as you know CB6 is in support of designation, and to date, from only a few tabling sessions in Tompkins Square Park, we have gathered over 1,000 signatures asking LPC to protect the EV/LES’s historic streetscapes, which I have with me here. 

We thank the Commission’s staff for their excellent work on the Proposed East 10th Street Historic District, and respectfully urge the Commission to vote to landmark without delay. We also ask that LPC move quickly to hold a public hearing for and landmark the Proposed East Village / Lower East Side Historic District, whose historic buildings remain in danger until they enjoy full landmark district protection, and to move ahead to protect all of the East Village / Lower East Side’s intact historic streetscapes.

Thank you very much.