UPPER EAST SIDE — Hundreds of advocates dressed in borough-specific T-shirts hit the Metropolitan Museum of Art Thursday as part of a campaign to determine which New York historic sites should get the largest share of $3 million in preservation grants.
Community organizations and preservation groups are vying for the big chunk of change courtesy of Partners in Preservation, a collaborative effort between American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has set aside the cash for 40 preservation projects across the city.
Voting on the Partners in Preservation website will determine where the money goes.
Voters may cast a ballot once each day until May 21.
The four projects with the most votes will automatically receive anywhere from $30,000 to $250,000. The remaining 36 projects will split the leftovers, based on an advisory committee assessment of need.
"Historic preservation has long been a hallmark of our community," said Kenneth Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express. "Historic landmarks help define our local identity, attract visitors to our neighborhoods, and help keep our economy strong. And our New York City candidates have something for everyone."
The city's finalists include the Apollo Theater in Harlem, Clinton Hill's Brown Memorial Baptist Church, City Island's Nautical Museum, Downtown Manhattan's Federal Hall National Memorial and Flushing Meadows Corona Park's Rocket Thrower sculpture.
During the announcement Thursday, the sites were projected as 3-D holograms onto the Met's Grace Rainey Rogers Hall stage, and served as a backdrop for pop singer Katharine McPhee's rendition of "New York, New York."
The finalists were whittled down from an initial list of more than 500 sites, which were chosen based on architectural and cultural diversity, as well as the viability of the proposed project.
New York City is the sixth city in the United States to participate in the Partners in Preservation program, which has pledged $15 million to helping preserve historic sites across the country.
"We were trying to gather a diverse group of sites with specific and viable projects that could be done in a reasonable amount of time," said Tim McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation. "And we wanted different types of architecture to be represented."
Former Mayor Ed Koch attended to show support.
"People don't realize New York City was the beginning of our country," Koch said, as he was escorted around the auditorium by a man in a George Washington costume.
"George Washington gave his last address there, and the Revolutionary War, that was New York City! I urge everyone to vote for George Washington and Federal Hall."