Below you will find instructions for completing the midterm assignment, due on Tuesday, October 21. We will review the assignment in class 10/7 and 10/14.
The midterm assignment is designed to familiarize you with New York City’s historic district and give you practice identifying significant features such as architectural styles, construction periods, and building typologies. Please follow the steps outlined below and pay close attention to content and formatting requirements. Please feel free to contact the instructor with any questions.
1) Go to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Historic District Maps page and select a historic district in any of the five boroughs. It is recommended that you choose a district in the neighborhood where you live or work (if applicable), or one that is easily accessible to you.
2) Prior to your visit, review the map and do some basic research about the historic district. You may read the designation report for the district or look for articles about it online. This will give you a basic understanding of why the buildings in this district were selected for preservation and illuminate the historical architectural, and cultural significance of the area.
To locate the designation report for your selected historic district, enter the district name in the LPC Designation Reports searchable database. Each report will have an introduction with a summary of the area’s history and an description of its architectural significance. Some of the reports are hundreds of pages. It is not necessary to read the entire report.
3) Visit your chosen historic district. Bring a camera to take clear photos during the day (and be mindful of weather conditions)! Pay special attention to features identifying architectural styles, periods of construction, and contiguous, intact blocks. Record your thoughts and observations so you can share them in your presentation, along with your photographs.
During your visit, try to answer the following questions:
- What are the predominant architectural styles and periods in this district?
- What features set this district apart from adjacent, non-landmarked blocks?
- What makes the buildings and blocks in this district worthy of preservation?
4) Put together a PowerPoint presentation about your historic district and post as a PDF document in the comments section of this post. If you prefer, you may send your presentation to the instructor via email. However, all presentations must be in PDF (not PPT) format, due to file size restrictions.
The presentation should be no more than 12 to 15 slides and include the following information:
- A map of the selected historic district;
- One or two historic photographs of the district;
- A brief statement of significance (from the Designation Report);
- Your photographs clearly showing the styles, architectural features, important structures and streetscapes in the district;
In addition to the presentation, students are asked to submit a 400-word narrative on why the buildings and blocks in the district were selected for preservation. The narrative must be submitted along with the presentation, either as a reply to this post or as a PDF via email.
Students will receive extra credit for sharing their presentations in class. Presentations will be approximately 15 minutes in length, and will take place on 10/21, 10/28 and 11/4. Students will be graded on their ability to identify architectural styles and construction periods, their understanding of the district’s significance, and their analysis of its key features and characteristics.
I’ve walked pass glorious architectural works in the historic district, Bedford Stuyvesant. Some when I researched, dates back centuries. Now I am asked why these edifices and blocks were deemed an historic district. My reasons vary from the architectural style, historical cultural movement within the community. A brief history on Bedford Stuyvesant are in the1600s and 1700s, Bedford Stuyvesant was a little Dutch village, a rural area with just a few country houses. But by the early 1800s, after the erection of the Brooklyn Bridge, homes began to populate the area. By the mid-1800s, housing construction in Bed-Stuy was booming. Affluent black families began buying these houses, many of which were designed by prominent architects, in the early 1900s. Despite being battered by crime, drugs, poverty and neglect in the ‘60s through late ‘80s, Bed-Stuy has been one of the nation’s largest and most storied concentrations of African Americans. The architecture in Bedford Stuyvesant is very distinctive. The aesthetics of this neighborhood makes even the average Joe stop and glance and say “that right there is a beauty.” The townhouses and small apartment buildings were designed by some of the city’s most celebrated 19th-century architects. One of those architect I found intriguing is Montrose W. Morris perhaps the most renowned architect of Brooklyn. Morris was a Bedford-Stuyvesant resident in the mid 1800s during the real estate boom. Morris did not experiment in brownstone townhouses, instead, some of the first multi-unit apartment buildings in New York City. The Alhambra, so pleased Seitz a developer, that he commissioned Morris to design other great apartment houses, such as the Renaissance and the Imperial. These three apartment buildings remain among the most prestigious and most impressive multiple-family residences in Brooklyn. Many of the works in this neighborhood is Morris’s own works. Aside from major architectural works, these edifices from the Chateauesque style to the Neo Grec gives the neighborhood’s streetscape class, elegance and history that can’t be replaced or repeated. These buildings and blocks, are some of our oldest past achievements.
Preserving the history and works of the architects accompanied by the numerous styled edifices are what makes Bedford Stuyvesant an historic district.
The Historic District that I picked for my midterm assignment was the DUMBO Historic District. I chose this District as it very close to my job and school. The Dumbo area was settled back in the 1600’s and has been an industrial port from the nineteenth century to the mid twentieth century. Dumbo is considered the area that is located on the East river; or northwestern waterfront of Brooklyn, NY. The first settlers in this region were the Canarsee Indians. The Canarsee Indians had several sets of settlements in Brooklyn, the however sold the portion of their land along the east river to a Dutch settler in 1637. The land was later seized by state and later sold to Comfort and Joshua Sands. The sand brothers were responsible for developing the waterfront into a community and developing the grids of the streets.
The reason Dumbo became so historically significant for the city of Brooklyn is because it was a major industrial community and one of the largest in the nation by the 1880’s. There are currently approximately 91 buildings within the DUMBO historic district and is thought to finest collections of industrial architecture from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The industrial design of this area started with brick counting houses from before the Civil War, and later came to include the construction of factories. Most of these buildings are made of bricks, with segmented windows which included sills and lintels and cornices. Over the years the materials used within the buildings would help to fire proof a structure but most buildings were usually slow-burning mill construction or concrete. The architectural styles that can be found in this area are American Round Arch Style, Daylight Factory, Industrial Neo-Classical, Vernacular, Italianate, Romanesque Revival, Greek Revival, and a Suspension Bridge.
To me the things that call out their own significance and design in this area are the windows. I particularly found myself constantly being drawn to the windows, their shape, their ornamentation and any detailing that was included in the sash or lintels. DUMBO is mostly up0 of large horizontal buildings, where on the blocks adjacent to DUMBO, the towers are steel with glass curtain walls and tower up to the sky. The warehouses, and factories give DUMBO a much quainter feel. I believe this has to do with the heavy brick facades, and rhythmic openings of windows and doors. The large delivery doors, and the instances were railroad tracks lead straight into them, give a feeling of a time long along. When the hustle and bustle of the riverside was where this industrial city of its time thrived and grew larger than anyone would have predicted. Now it is known as a small neighborhood that consists of so much character and considered too historical to our city to be altered. The preservation of this neighborhood associates us with the people who would go to the factories every day and produce to enhance the status of this city and their lives.
For my midterm presentation I chose to do research on the NoHo historic district. I chose to do research on NoHo because it is located around where I work. I always walk past the streets of this place without really looking up. I thought most of all these buildings were pretty much cast-iron façade buildings. I didn’t know not only they represent over 100 years of American architecture but also the economic situation of their times.
NoHo represents architecture history from 1810 – 1910. As of now there are about 125 buildings in the NoHo historic district. Most of these remaining buildings are from the period of 1850 – 1910 which represents the time of commercial development. NOHO was designated as historic district in June 29th 1999. The land was once occupied by prominent families such as Bayards, Bleecker and Randall who lived in grand Federal style grand houses.
Noho historic district buildings also contain architecture styles such as Federal, Greek revival, Italianate, Neo-Grec, 2nd Empire, Queen Anne, Romanesque Revival, Beaux-Arts and Neo-Classical Revival. It also represents a period of NY’s commercial history from 1850’s to 1910’s when it thrived as a wholesale of dry goods such as textiles and ready to wear clothes such as today’s NOHO stores.
We can see the economic status of the neighborhood’s by the height of the buildings. While the early years buildings were only around 4 stories tall due to lack of technology. However, the period from 1880’s to early 1900’s most of the buildings being built were about 12 stories high due to commercial development and the economic growth. After the 1910’s many merchants left to uptown north of 14th street to the Herald Square area so that they can be closer to the major retail center. This caused many of the buildings in Noho vacant.
The area didn’t recover as much due to 2 world wars and the great depression. That is until the 1970 – 1980 when the artists started moving back into the area’s loft buildings and the retail stores started to open again to what we can see today. I think NoHo was designated as historic district because it represents not only the history of American architecture but also the decline and growth of economic times for about 100 years period.
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