New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission decided in a unanimous vote to make south Greenwich Village the South Village Historical District.
The 13-block area is New York’s newest addition to the growing number of historic sites, including two which already exist in the West Village and two in the East Village.
“This is a long overdue victory for this neighborhood and for anyone who loves New York’s rich immigrant history and long tradition of cultural innovation,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.
The addition of this area to the list of historic sites is the end result of ten years of fighting to win approval for the district. The move will be the largest expansion of landmark protections in the South Village since 1969.
Included in the South Village Historic District are 240 buildings with such iconic landmarks as the Café Wha? on MacDougal St, the first venue for Bob Dylan and his unique folk-rock music; and the home of Louisa May Alcott, author of “Little Women.” Caffe Reggio, also on MacDougal is also in the district- the former famous hangout of the “Beat Generation” and the place where cappuccino first made its debut in the United States in 1927.
“Few places embody as much history as the South Village, and few places were in as great of danger of losing that history,” Berman said.
The status imbued by the Landmarks Preservation Commission disallows demolitions and alterations of buildings within the district without the permission granted by the Commission. The designation also tightly controls new development; completely forbidding the building of structures which are out-of-synch with the stature of the surrounding buildings. High-rises like the 26-floor dormitory building of NYU, which was constructed behind the façade of the historic St. Anne’s Church on East 12th Street would, under the Commission’s present designation, be completely forbidden.