Above: The 1930s Art Deco tower at 70 Pine Street, which is widely regarded as an architectural masterpiece. Below: Current conditions in the lobby, which has the unusual status of a legally protected interior landmark.
Preserving the Patrimony
Concerns about Plan to Obscure Legally Protected Architectural Details
Plans to alter the lobby of an Art Deco masterpiece at 70 Pine Street have spurred Community Board 1 (CB1) to urge the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to veto the proposal. At issue is the desire of the developer who owns the building to “activate” the space by creating interior entrances to the storefronts that face the street, and then using the lobby to house additional seating.
The partitions and walls that such a plan require would obscure several architectural details, such as the view of two grand staircases, and a fluted marble wall. Because 70 Pine Street has an unusual form of legal protection—both the facade and the lobby have landmark status—such alterations require approval from the LPC. This, in turn, triggers a requirement for CB1 to weigh in with a recommendation.
In a recent resolution, CB1 urged the LPC to “reject the modifications to the 70 Pine Street lobby because the location and height of the proposed kiosk-like structures disrupt the line of sight to too many of the historically significant features of the original interior landmark lobby.”
A rendering of the same lobby after it has been “activated” to provide space for retail businesses, which will obscure a pair of grand staircases.
The tower at 70 Pine Street was built in the early 1930s, designed by the firm Clinton, Russell, Holton & George (remembered for the nearby One Wall Street Court and the Apthorp apartments, on the Upper West Side), as the headquarters for the Cities Services Corporation, which later became known as Citgo. When it opened, the structure’s 70 floors (and 952-foot height) made it the tallest building in Lower Manhattan, and the third tallest in the world. Its slender spire fostered a unique innovation: double-deck elevators, which stopped simultaneously on both odd and even floors. They were retired in the early 1970s, and changed over to conventional lifts.
Around that time, 70 Pine was bought by insurance giant American International Group, which fell on hard times during the financial crisis of 2007, causing the company to part with the building. It then passed to MetroLoft, a company that has converted many Lower Manhattan office buildings into residential towers. The transformation created 612 new residential units, plus a hotel on the lower floors.
The LPC has declined to approve or reject the developer’s plan for the lobby at 70 Pine, instead remanding it for further consideration.
A Very Lucrative Landmark
Private Space in a Publicly Owned Building Seeks Expansion of Expensive (and Exclusive) Club
Community Board 1 (CB1) is casting a skeptical eye on plans to expand a rooftop private club space at the historic Battery Maritime Building, located at 20 South Street. Read more…
A Report Card on Resiliency
A Decade After Sandy, Comptroller Says Downtown Is Farther Ahead Than Other Communities, But Still Lagging
A report from New York City Comptroller Brad Lander released late last week says that resiliency plans for Lower Manhattan are farther along than the rest of the City, but still less than halfway to completion. Read more…
Got Any Ideas on How to Spend a Million Dollars?
Marte Seeks Suggestions for Allocating Capital Funds to Local Projects
City Council member Christopher Marte (right) is soliciting ideas on how to spend up to $1 million in public funds on Lower Manhattan public infrastructure projects. Read more…
It is estimated that of the 2,977 people killed on 9/11, 67 were undocumented immigrants, most having been workers at the Windows on the World restaurant atop the North Tower. This presentation highlight the stories of undocumented immigrants who died on 9/11, while discussing the complex legal processes of proving their existence and ensuring they would not be forgotten. Free.
In a blend of history, fiction, and magical realism, The Vanishing is a new novel from David Michael Slater. The book traces how one girl, as a result of witnessing a brutal murder, turns invisible to save her best friend from the horror of Nazi Germany. Slater will be joined in conversation by Jay Lender, writer and storyboard director of SpongeBob SquarePants and Phineas and Ferb, who is adapting the book into a live-action film. $10 suggested donation.
The Noir Pairings hybrid film series pairs a neo-noir with a classic noir movie for comparison and discussion. In The Asphalt Jungle (1950) directed by John Huston, ex-convict Doc assembles a team to steal $1 million in jewels, but then double crosses, bad luck and solid police work cause everything to unravel. Free.
Improve balance, strength and focus through gentle exercises led by an instructor. Free.
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8am-3pm (compost program: Saturdays, 8am-1pm)
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Broadway & Whitehall St
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-5pm (compost program: 8am-11am)
World Trade Center Oculus Greenmarket
Tuesdays, 8am-5pm (ending this month)
The Outdoor Fulton Stall Market
91 South Street, between Fulton & John Streets
Indoor market: Monday through Saturday,11:30am-5pm
CSA pick-up: Thursday, 4pm-6pm; Friday, 11:30-5pm
Outdoor market: Saturdays, 11:30am-5pm
Today in History
On this day in 1803, the United States ratified the Louisiana Purchase—the territory shown in white—for $15 million from the French First Republic. France actually only controlled a small fraction of this area, however. For the rest of the area, which was inhabited by Native Americans, the United States bought the right to obtain land by treaty or by conquest.
1803 – The United States Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase.
1947 – The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of the Hollywood film industry.
1961 – The Soviet Union performs the first armed test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, launching an R-13 from a Golf-class submarine.
1973 – In the Saturday Night Massacre, President Richard Nixon fires U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus after they refuse to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who is finally fired by Robert Bork.
2011 – Rebel forces capture Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and his son Mutassim in his hometown of Sirte and kill him shortly thereafter, ending the first Libyan civil war.
2020 – US Justice Department sues Google for illegal monopoly over search and search advertising
1632 – Christopher Wren, English physicist, mathematician, and architect, designed St Paul’s Cathedral in London (d. 1723)
1885 – Jelly Roll Morton, pianist, composer, and bandleader (d. 1941)
1925 – Art Buchwald, humorist (d. 2007)
1931 – Mickey Mantle, baseball player and sportscaster (d. 1995)
1940 – Robert Pinsky, poet and critic
1964 – Kamala Harris, U.S. Vice President (2021- )
1971 – Snoop Dogg, rapper
1979 – John Krasinski, actor, director and producer
1926 – Eugene V. Debs, American union leader and politician (b. 1855)
1936 – Anne Sullivan, educator, teacher of Helen Keller (b. 1866)
1964 – Herbert Hoover, engineer and politician, 31st U.S. President (b. 1874)
2010 – Bob Guccione, publisher, founded Penthouse magazine (b. 1930)
2014 – René Burri, Swiss photographer and journalist (b. 1933)
2014 – Oscar de la Renta, Dominican-American fashion designer (b. 1932)