South Village added to 'Seven to Save' list

March 29, 2012 6:34:35 AM PDT
There is a push to get historic status for a Bohemian entertainment hub in Manhattan. The 35 blocks that make up the South Village has been recognized by the Preservation League of New York state and added to its "Seven to Save" list.

The neighborhood runs from West 4th Street down to Watts Street.

The Preservation League has added the South Village to its list of the Empire State's most threatened historic resources, and that designation is a big step forward.

The turn-of-the-century architecture, quirky streets and cultural landmarks are woven together to make the South Village a hotbed of New York City's past. But without landmark designation, it's future is threatened.

Already lost is the home where Edgar Allen Poe lived, replaced by NYU's law school. The Sullivan Street Playhouse and 178 Bleecker Street, an 1860s tenement house, are now gaping holes.

"We know it was a cradle of 19th- and 20th-century immigrants, that it was the home to so many of the great innovators of music, literature and the arts in the 20th century," said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. "It's got beautiful architecture that people love, and it's in danger. We're losing buildings every day."

Within the South Village, you also have Café Reggio, the city's first coffeehouse that open in 1927. There's also the home where Louisa May Alcott lived and may have written "Little Women."

"It should absolutely be landmarked, and I don't mind if there's development," resident Rags Watkins said. "Certainly I'd like to see the neighborhood improve and continue to thrive, but it has to be done appropriately."

Once landmark status is granted, it means that the New York City Landmarks Commission must approve any alteration, reconstruction, demolition or new construction affecting the designated building in advance.

The Preservation League carries a lot of weight. Back in 2002, it put the Meatpacking District on its list, and within a year, the New York City Landmarks Commission designated it as an historic district.

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