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Morningside Hts. Historic District Plan Moves Ahead After Years of Advocacy

By Emily Frost | September 13, 2016 2:41pm
 This map shows the boundaries of the proposed Morningside Heights Historic District.
This map shows the boundaries of the proposed Morningside Heights Historic District.
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Landmarks Preservation Commission

UPPER WEST SIDE — The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of holding a public hearing to discuss designating Morningside Heights a historic district.

The public hearing, which will be set sometime in November, will give community members a chance to weigh in on the designation and will ultimately lead to the commission making a final vote on it.

The proposed 115-building historic district is made up largely of residential buildings and some institutional buildings, most built between the 1890s and 1920s, according to the LPC. The district would start just above West 108th Street and run to West 119th Street, including parts of Riverside Drive, Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine would not be included, but it is currently under consideration by LPC as an individual landmark.

Residents and community leaders have been working to create the historic district for decades.

The Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, a group leading the charge, created an online petition for the designation that had garnered about 315 signatures of its 500 goal as of Tuesday afternoon.

"[The neighborhood] is notable for the highest density of early-20th-century middle-class apartment buildings in all of New York City constructed in a short period of time and it contains the greatest concentration of historic institutions of higher learning of any neighborhood in the United States," the petition states. 

In May, Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell also launched an online petition calling for the designation. O'Donnell, a founding member of the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee 20 years ago, praised the decision Tuesday.

"Today's achievement was made possible by the cohesiveness of the Morningside Heights community- from its buildings to its people," he said in a statement.

Recently, residents and elected officials protested plans by a developer to build a 250,000-square-foot condo building on West 122nd Street on a parcel of land sold by the Jewish Theological Seminary.

The land would not be protected by the current proposal for a Morningside Heights Historic District, so opponents are pushing for a rezoning of the area to prevent large developments.