Search results for "Green-Wood Cemetery"

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Archtober Building of the Day #29> Green-Wood Cemetery Columbarium, Tranquility Gardens, and Chapel/Crematorium
Archtober Building of the Day #29 Green-Wood Cemetery Columbarium, Tranquility Gardens, and Chapel/Crematorium 500 25th Street, Brooklyn PBDW Architects The trend in burial at Green-Wood Cemetery is decidedly toward cremation. Built in 1838, and the final resting place of 570,000 people, it is “literally running out of space,” according to Green-Wood President Richard J. Moylan. He estimated they’ll run out of space for in-ground burials in the next five years. “We could pack them in tighter, but that would ruin it,” he said. Anne Holford-Smith said her firm consulted a feng shui expert when designing the gardens and columbarium. “To make sure we don’t commit too many sins,” explained Moylan. The “qi” flows well through the garden, which is dominated by a shallow pond, complete with koi fish. A footbridge over the pond supports a striking glass obelisk whose interior offers a place for contemplation. The path leads to the columbarium, Latin for dovecote, a building filled with niches to house urns of cremated remains. “We really fell in love with the glass,” said Holford-Smith, explaining the dominant motif of the horseshoe-shaped columbarium that circles one end of the pond. PBDW wanted to bring “the outside inside, and the inside outside,” she said. Although they are somber and richly textured, the rooms have an airy openness, with floor-to-ceiling windows showcasing the rolling hills of the old-fashioned cemetery beyond. Intimate spaces have curved walls of niches and discrete seating areas with upholstered furniture and soft carpeting. Orchids sit on coffee tables. The only sound is the rushing of air. PBDW worked in several different materials, which Green-Wood offers at different price-points for its “niche” customers. Transparent glass is the most popular, followed by opaque granite. Frosted glass is not a big seller, and no one seems to want the wooden niches with folding doors and little locking compartments. Apparently the columbarium’s customers want their jade urns, complete with small pictures of their deceased loved ones, visible to all passersby. Moylan explained that niches at eye- or heart-level are the most expensive. “It’s all location, location, location,” he said.
Tyler J. Kelley is a freelance journalist living in New York City. His documentary film Following Seas will be out this spring. See a trailer and more of his work at the-jetty.com
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Exhibition Celebrates the Architecture of Brooklyn’s 175-Year-Old Green-Wood Cemetery
The Museum of the City of New York presents A Beautiful Way to Go: New York’s Green-Wood Cemetery, a new exhibition that examines the Brooklyn cemetery’s astonishing 175-year history, on view from May 15 to October 13. As a National Historic Landmark that predates both of Olmsted's Central Park and Prospect Park, the cemetery grounds cover a vital 19th-century American public green space and remain a critical site in New York’s architectural history. The landmark landscape characterizes the “rural cemetery movement” and tells a complex narrative that links architectural, art, social, and cultural histories. The installation involves a gallery-sized map of the cemetery that serves as a guide for visitors to walk upon and as the framework for the arrangement of over 200 artifacts, sculptures, architectural drawings, and documents. The exhibit not only focuses on exploring the cemetery, but also its most eminent permanent residents. Burial at Green-Wood garnered considerable respect and attracted posh New Yorkers to choose it as the ultimate resting space. The cemetery also represents a new type of burial space: non-sectarian and not bordering a church. The rural burial ground concept, with its greenery and comfortable travel distance from the city, was first designed for Paris’ 1804 Père-Lachaise. The idea reached the United States by the 1830s and Mount Auburn in Cambridge was the country’s first such cemetery. Green-Wood Cemetery, designed by David Bates Douglass, followed in 1838 within the newly incorporated city of Brooklyn. Highlights of the exhibition include 19th-century landscape paintings by Asher Brown Durand and John William Casilear, chief Hudson Valley School artists who are buried at Green-Wood. The exhibition incorporates viewing machines with “stereographs” that provide popular period three-dimensional pictures of Green-Wood Cemetery and one of four zinc Civil War soldiers on site that were reproduced in cemeteries nationwide.
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Read the Plaque

NYC monuments commission decides to move one statue and contextualize Columbus
Following months of public comments, New York City’s Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments and Markers, formed last September by mayor Bill de Blasio, has finished its review. The commission was created as response to the rising fervor around removing contested monuments around the country, as local activists pointed out that New York has its fair share of statues that celebrate problematic historical figures. The most contentious of the monuments under review was the Christopher Columbus statue that anchors the Columbus Circle roundabout on the southwestern corner of Central Park. New York’s Italian-American community slammed the possibility of removing the statue when the commission was first announced, while others decried celebrating a figure whose actions directly led to the killing of native peoples and the seizing of their land. Instead of removing the iconic statue, de Blasio has announced that plaques will go up explaining historical context, as well as the creation of a monument celebrating the achievements of indigenous peoples near Columbus Circle. Citing the “layered legacies” of each of the items under review, the commission’s report recommended a number of changes for several other highly public monuments, which the mayor has already signed off on. The statue of Theodore Roosevelt on horseback in front of the Museum of Natural History, recently doused in red paint by activists, will stay put. Instead, the museum will be offering educational programs on both Roosevelt’s history of conservation as well as his views of colonialism. Additional markers will be installed around the statue to the same effect. The J. Marion Sims statue at 5th Avenue and 103rd Street bordering Central Park was also under deliberation. Known as the “the father of modern gynecology,” Sims’ legacy has come under fire for his well-known experimentation on unanesthetized slaves. Citing the lack of contextual relevance for the statue’s current site the commission voted to relocate it to Green-Wood cemetery, where Sims is buried. While the original pedestal will remain in place in East Harlem, a plaque will be installed that discusses the issues Sims’ legacy raises. Finally, a marker for Marshal Philippe Pétain has been left in place on Lower Broadway’s “Canyon of Heroes”, which denoted a stretch from the Battery to City Hall where ticker-tape parades are typically held. The marker was installed in 2004, when the Downtown Alliance installed a series of 206 granite markers along the avenue, each representing a ticker-tape parade that had been held on Broadway. The Frenchman had been hailed as hero after returning from WWI and honored with a parade in New York, but later became a top figure in the collaborative Vichy government during WWII. In light of his eventual conviction for treason, the commission recommended installing signage that would re-contextualize the markers, as well as stripping the “Canyon of Heroes” name from Lower Broadway. The committee’s full report is the culmination of months of public hearings and thousands of public comments.
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In latest push to clear backlog, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designates nine new landmarks
Tasked with clearing its 95-item backlog, New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is moving swiftly to shape the future of historic structures in the Big Apple by clearing its docket. On Tuesday, the LPC voted to designate nine items—eight individual structures and one historic district—as New York City Landmarks.
Perhaps the most recognizable item on the list was the Pepsi Cola Sign, which has graced the shores of Long Island City, Queens, since 1936. The sign is not a typical landmark. It's an ad for a beverage conglomerate, albeit a charming, retro ad. A debate arose around the nuances of the designation at a meeting in February to present evidence in favor of preservation. Supporters' eyes ping-ponged anxiously as LPC members brought up possible obstacles objections: Would designation cover the metal scaffolding that the bottle and logo are attached to, or would designation encompass just the signs' iconic appendages, leaving a loophole to alter the sign's arrangement?
The LPC decided to landmark the Pepsi sign, noting in its recommendation that the sign was preserved once before, as the factory it flanked was sold in 1999. The LPC's decision recognizes the city's manufacturing heritage, and preserves the spirit of place that's otherwise the face of bland waterfront luxury condo development. The grassroots Historic Districts Council (HDC) recommends that the LPC "investigate additional preservation protections, such as an easement or some other form of legal contract to help ensure this landmark’s continued presence."
In all, there were ten items recommended for designation, including two whose eclecticism and allure rival the Pepsi sign (the commission delayed a vote on Immaculate Conception Church in the South Bronx.). One residence is a Gravesend landmark: The Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House, a stone, 18th-century Dutch-American-style farmhouse, is a rare survivor from Brooklyn's agrarian past. Local lore holds that the house belonged to Lady Deborah Moody, one of the area's first European women landowners.
New Yorkers thrilled by the Neoclassical flourishes of the Fifth Avenue facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be delighted by the LPC's recognition of the Vanderbilt Mausoleum, a diminutive-by-comparison and little-known work by the same architect. École des Beaux Arts–trained Richard Morris Hunt designed the Romanesque Revival final resting place for the titans of industry, located in Staten Island's Frederick Law Olmsted–designed Moravian Cemetery. The Vanderbilts were so impressed by the meeting of minds that they hired Hunt and Olmstead to collaborate on the clan's low-key country house in North Carolina.
With that memento mori, the LPC voted to designate a few 19th-century structures within Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery. Although the entire cemetery, a National Historic Landmark, was up for local designation, even ardent preservationists advocated against the designation, noting that landmark status could place onerous restrictions on the 478-acre cemetery's operations: The plots, headstones, and mausoleums are owned by individuals, with 1,200 new "permanent residents" added annually, potentially complicating the regulation process.
The largest rural cemetery in the U.S., Green-Wood was designed by David Bates Douglass under the guiding landscape principles of Andrew Jackson Downing. The Gothic Revival entrance on Fifth Avenue, designed by Richard Upjohn and home to a vigorous parakeet colony, was declared an Individual Landmark in 1966. A chapel in the same style by Warren & Wetmore (the same firm behind Grand Central Terminal) received designation this time around, as did the Gatehouse and Gatehouse Cottage at the Fort Hamilton Parkway entrance.
For more information and updates on the extension of a Park Slope historic district, St. Augustine’s Church and Rectory, New England on City Island, and other newly-landmarked items, check out the LPC's website.
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Minerva Casts Curse on Brooklyn Development
Greenwood Cemetery.
Catching Flies/Flickr
 
The Statute of Minerva looks across New York Harbor toward the Statue of Liberty, its view nearly blocked by a development across from the Cemetery. (Click to Zoom)
David Grider

In an effort to preserve its extraordinary views of New York Harbor, Green-Wood Cemetery, the 478-acre site that holds the highest point in Brooklyn, has hired lawyers to draft a document that aims to prevent new buildings from blocking the vista. Their plan is due before the City Council this fall, and, if passed, would potentially put the brakes on dense new development in contested areas of Brooklyn including the Red Hook waterfront and Sunset Park.

“By recognizing as official city policy the importance of this view, we will raise the bar,” said Ken Fisher, an attorney for the cemetery. The plan, he added, would put pressure on development-friendly city officials, who “will have to justify in public why they are deviating from that policy.”

The cemetery’s plan, contained in a 197-a document currently under review by local community boards, would protect what it calls the Battle Hill view corridor, a line of sight linking the cemetery and the harbor. Green-Wood argues that such a view is historically significant: Home to such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein and Boss Tweed, the cemetery is built on the site of the Battle of Brooklyn. To commemorate the event, a local businessman named Charles Higgins erected a statue of the goddess Minerva in 1920. She faces New York Harbor and salutes the Statue of Liberty.

Aaron Brashear, co-founder of Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights, said that the view corridor linking the two statues has come increasingly under threat since 2003, when Community Board 6 voted to restrict building heights. Since developers could no longer build towers in Park Slope, they headed south to Greenwood Heights, which begins on the south side of 15th Street. “Developers literally moved across the street. I mean literally,” Brashear said.

The view corridor from the Minerva statue to the Statue of Liberty.
Courtesy Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights

Two years later, Robert Scarano began to develop a site at 23rd Street and 7th Avenue, across the street from the cemetery, knocking down a building that Higgins had once owned, which at various times served as a wire factory, a dairy wholesaler, and a warehouse. The new building, to be approximately 65 feet in height, would have permanently blocked Liberty from Minerva’s gaze.

In 2005, after Scarano began construction, the area was rezoned from R6 to R6B, limiting street walls to a height of 40 feet. Scarano appealed to the BSA that the unfinished building should not be subject to the new restrictions, but lost. The site was eventually taken over by Aron Liebovits, who built 11 single-family houses that do not block the view. Still, Brashear, a graphic designer who also serves as the buildings and construction committee chair of Community Board 7, worries that tenants’ roof access, available to all but the corner building, will mar the vista.

While a 197-a plan is only an advisory document, the cemetery and local activists hope legislation will eventually be drafted to protect the corridor. Brashear pointed out that the city has protected views in the past. In 1974, city zoning documents were amended to preserve “Special Scenic View Districts,” a provision put in place to save the view corridor linking the Brooklyn Heights promenade and Lower Manhattan—still, according to Fisher, the only such protected view in the city.

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New York City to remove 96 sites from landmark consideration
In an effort to supposedly streamline New York City’s landmarking process, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will drop 96 buildings and sites from consideration for historic preservation. These sites span all five boroughs and include Union Square, Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn, and the Pepsi-Cola sign in Long Island City (above). Of the nearly 96 sites (94 structures and two historic districts), 80 have been calendared for more than 20 years.“The buildings considered for this action were placed on the Commission's calendar, public hearings were held, and they currently remain inactive,” explained the LPC in a statement. While being calendared is kind of like landmarks limbo, it comes with significant protections. “Calendaring means that no demolition, construction, or alteration permits can be granted for a site without first notifying the LPC and allowing them up to forty days to designate the structure or negotiate a change or withdrawal of the permit applications,” explained Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), in a statement. The Society has called upon the LPC to drop its so-called "mass de-calendaring." Landmarks West!, a committee to promote historic preservation on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, has also slammed the LPC’s planned action, saying the commission is “essentially sentencing [the buildings and sites]to death by bulldozer.” The LPC contends that removing the sites will make the landmarks process smoother. "Cleaning up that backlog will ensure the LPC can much more effectively fulfill its mission of responding to the landmarking issues of today in real time," de Blasio spokesperson Wiley Norvell told DNAinfo. The Commission adds that this action would not stop it from reconsidering landmark status for any of these sites or buildings. After some pressure from DNAinfo and the Manhattan Borough President's office, the LPC has made the list of sites available to the public. The Commission will vote on its "administrative action," this upcoming Monday.