How much do New Yorkers value buildings of architectural interest? The example of New York City Centre. By Vianney Lepoutre

NYC Centre restoration
Sponsorship for the restoration

The New York City Center, previously known as the City Center of Music and Drama, is a Neo-Moorish theater built in 1923, famous as a performing home for several major dance companies.

The theater was first used as a meeting house for the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, a freemasonry organization. It was purchased by the city in 1943 and saved from demolition with the idea of transforming it into a theater.

The New York City Center was renovated in 2010 for $56 million. Historic elements like the mosaic walls, arabesque ceilings and the original box-office lobby were restored.

This restoration effort is proof that New Yorkers want to protect their old buildings and have found the means to do so. The New York City Center is a fine example of the culturally rich past of the City. New Yorkers want to keep buildings like it as they are places that bring back memories, that bear witness to past events, both good and sometimes sad.

Are New Yorkers nostalgic people? Yes and no. They are prepared to spend much time, effort and money on preservation, which would indicate a fondness for things of a bygone era. But, I would say, it is not a morbid interest, but rather more motivated by pride of past accomplishments and the need to remind ourselves and future generations of those times and of the progress made since. It’s a museological, academic, educational interest more than a desperate attempt to maintain the memory of better times alive…

Since the 1950s, many preservation organizations have been set up. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) is one among many. The aim of GVSHP is to preserve the architectural heritage and cultural history of Greenwich Village and contribute to Village community life.

Similar preservation movements exist elsewhere in the New York boroughs, showing the importance heritage has for New Yorkers.

Through preserving examples of past architecture, they want to protect what had and still has importance for them: their homes, the places where things happened to them… New Yorkers want to preserve the places that have meaning, that remind them of events and people, of yesteryear and of today. The past needs to be present…

No comments:

Post a Comment