UNION SQUARE — The city is set to discuss the landmarking of Union Square Park at a hearing next month, more than four decades after the bustling green space was first considered for the designation.
The park's status will be heard by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Nov. 5 as part of an effort by the agency to clear out a backlog of landmark candidates, some of which have been on the list for decades.
Union Square was opened as a park in 1839 and became the go-to meeting place for anarchists, socialists and labor groups, a legacy it continues to carry with frequent demonstrations in the square.
The park as it exists now dates back to 1936, when it was razed and elevated slightly to allow for the subway station below it, according to the LPC.
The commission initially eyed Union Square in 1970, but like many projects in the commission’s backlog, it has not budged since then. It has remained there even as rezoning in the area has allowed construction of high-rises like the Zeckendorf Towers near the park, according to the New York Preservation Archive Project.
Also on the agenda at the Nov. 5 hearing is the landmark status of the Bergdorf Goodman building, located at 754 Fifth Ave. The ornately decorated department store was among the first businesses to relocate to what was then cheaper real estate uptown, and has since become a cornerstone of the city’s luxury shopping district on Fifth Avenue.
The LPC last year planned to remove more than 100 items from its backlog without public review, but backed down in the face of an outcry from preservationists. In response to protests, the LPC scheduled four special hearings aimed at clearing out the backlog while allowing for public input, with the first taking place on Oct. 8.
City lawmakers are currently debating a bill that would require potential landmarks to have a hearing within 180 days of the LPC agreeing to consider their case, as well as requiring the commission to make a decision within 180 days of the hearing. But preservationists have criticized the bill, saying it sets an unrealistic timeline for the process.
The three remaining special hearings — scheduled for Oct. 22, Nov. 5 and Nov. 12 — will give speakers three minutes to testify on any of the items slated for that hearing. People hoping to weigh in on Union Square, Bergdorf Goodman or other items slated for the Nov. 5 hearing must register and submit written testimony by Oct. 29, and can find more information on the LPC website.
A representative of the Parks Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.