Gansevoort Market Historic District landmarks hearing March 18
Culminating a two and a half year battle to preserve Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, or Gansevoort Market, GVSHP announced today that it had succeeded in securing a hearing date for a proposal to designate a Gansevoort Market Historic District. The hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 18, at 9:30 A.M., at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (Municipal Bldg., One Centre Street, 9th floor).
“We are thrilled that the Landmarks Preservation is taking this incredibly important step towards ensuring that Gansevoort Market, Manhattan’s last remaining market neighborhood, will be preserved,” stated Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation Executive Director Andrew Berman. “The unique sense of place — the cobblestoned streets, the low-rise rowhouse and market buildings, the metal awnings, the rustic warehouses, can and should be preserved for future generations to appreciate. Gansevoort Market tells a powerful story of New York’s rise as a mercantile hub and as a place where food and other products are made, distributed and sold. As a neighborhood, Gansevoort Market has shown remarkable resilience over the years, taking on new life recently as a center of nightlife, galleries, restaurants, and upscale stores, even as it has retained its meat market businesses and its gritty architecture. Historic district designation and protections will help ensure that it remains the special place that it has been for generations, even as it continues to evolve and grow,” he added.
The Gansevoort Market district faces intense development pressure and increasing threats to tear down or permanently alter its historic buildings. A 13-story aluminum clad hotel is under construction right now in the proposed historic district at Hudson and 13th Streets, and just beyond the district’s edges at Washington and 13th Streets, a developer is applying for permission from the City to build a 462-ft. tall residential tower. At the same time, however, dozens of meat businesses employing hundreds of workers continue to thrive in the district, and many of the older buildings are being preserved and renovated for use as photography studios, galleries, retail spaces, clubs, and restaurants.
In 2000, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation founded its “Save Gansevoort Market” project, a coalition of residents, preservationists, merchants, community leaders and elected officials fighting to preserve the integrity of the historic meat packing district and secure landmark status for the area.
In 2002, GVSHP formally submitted a proposal for designation of a Gansevoort Market historic district to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, following a postcard campaign in which 5,000 New Yorkers sent messages to the Mayor and the LPC Chair urging them to designate a Gansevoort Market historic district. Later that year, GVSHP successfully secured a determination of eligibility for the Gansevoort Market district for listing on the State and National Register of Historic Places, and secured a place for Gansevoort Market on the New York State Preservation League’s annual “Seven to Save” list, naming it one of New York State’s seven most important, endangered historic sites.
If designated, the Gansevoort Market historic district will be the first new historic district in Greenwich Village since 1969. Currently, about 1/3 of Greenwich Village is included in 1 large and 3 small historic districts. The Gansevoort Market Historic District which the LPC has agreed to consider stretches from Horatio and Gansevoort Street on its South side, to north of 14th Street on its north side, from east of Hudson Street on its east side, to Washington Street and just west of it on its west side. It includes all or part of 13 blocks and approximately 150 buildings. Structures in the district include rowhouses from the 1840s, purpose-built and converted market buildings from the late-19th to the mid-20th centuries (many with the distinctive projecting metal awnings covering sidewalks which are characteristic of the district) and a remarkable array of late 19th and early 20th century loft, storage, warehouse, and manufacturing buildings.
Some of the more striking individual buildings include the Triangular “Little Flatiron” building at 669-681 Hudson Street (between 13th and 14th Streets), the rounded edged 53-61 Gansevoort Street, immortalized by Bernice Abbott’s 1936 photodocumentary “Changing New York,” the old Manhattan Refrigeration Company Warehouse at Gansevoort and Washington Streets (now the West Coast apartments), the “Homestead Row” of surviving rowhouses wrapping around the corner of 14th Street and 9th Avenue, which includes the ‘Old Homestead,’ which bills itself to be New York’s oldest steakhouse, established in 1868, the polychromatic former Collier’s Magazine printing plant at 416 West 13th Street, where modernist poet e.e. cummings once worked and was said to have developed his unconventional writing and grammar style, and the former stable and General Electric electric trolley car barn at 441 West 14th Street.
A small portion of GVSHP’s proposed historic district, including the High Line elevated rail line (which the City is currently considering preserving and re-using as an elevated public walkway and park), is not included in the district currently being considered by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The LPC has said that they will consider this area as a possible future extension of the historic district, and GVSHP has committed to advocating for its inclusion.