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Park Slope Historic District Becomes City's Biggest

PARK SLOPE — With 600 buildings added to Park Slope's existing historic district, the leafy brownstone Brooklyn neighborhood now has the city's largest single historic district, following a City Council vote to approve the expansion Wednesday.

The Council unanimously approved the move to protect hundreds more stately brownstones in Park Slope, where a historic district established in the 1970s already covered about 2,000 buildings mainly near Prospect Park and Grand Army Plaza.

The expansion extends the historic district from Seventh to 14th streets between Seventh and Eighth avenues and includes the northwest half of Bartel-Pritchard Square.

The mass landmarking means that future generations won't have to worry about Park Slope's famed brownstones disappearing to make way for new development, said Peter Bray, chair of the Park Slope Civic Council Historic District Committee, which led the five-year effort to expand the historic district.

"It feels wonderful," Bray said of Wednesday's vote. "Park Slope having a bigger historic district means people will have a feeling of security in knowing that a place they feel a connection with, and that they love, will be that way when they visit it in the future. That's really important. People crave that sense of belonging to a neighborhood."

The move to expand the historic district faced broad community support, claimed Bray, who went door-to-door to talk to residents about the expansion.

Property owners who want to make alterations to buildings must get special approval from the city, and modifications that clash with the neighborhood's vintage character won't be allowed.

"These are some of the most beautiful streets in New York and, with today's vote, we know they will be enjoyed by generations to come," Park Slope Councilman Brad Lander said in a statement.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the expansion in April, and City Council approval wasn't a surprise.

The expanded historic district includes the former Ansonia Clock Works complex between 11th and 12th streets and Seventh and Eighth avenues. The buildings are now co-ops but a century ago they made up the largest clock factory in the world, Bray said. The modest two-story buildings around the factory that served as housing for its workers will also be preserved in the new historic district expansion.

"I love the fact that this is now part of the historic district because it represents a part of the history of not only Park Slope, but of New York City," Bray said. "One hundred years ago it was a very different city. Now you think of New York as being a financial services and real estate city but the the fact was that for tens of thousands of families, industry was their livelihood."

Bray said there's more work to do to preserve Park Slope's historic character.

Next the Park Slope Civic Council will push for expanding the historic distric to include the stretch of blocks between Carroll and Dean streets and Fifth and Sixth avenues. After that the Civic Council will focus on landmarking buildings in the center of Park Slope.

"It's really a very large neighborhood and there's a lot that's worthy of being designated as a histortic district," Bray said.