Is That Much Really Missing From the Morningside Historic District?
Laura Kusisto Sept. 22, 2010, 3:14 p.m.
You can almost hear the folks at the Landmarks Preservation Commission sighing.
After 15 years, the commission finally gave the residents of Morningside Heights the historic district they’ve been begging for. But now they’re unhappy that the 63-building district will be much smaller than proposed, including, well, pretty much Columbia University. The new district would not include the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, built in 1888 and the fourth-largest church in the world, not to mention the famed cliffs overlooking Morningside Park.
“Most people felt that the proposal the Landmarks Commission made was too small. It was just a sliver,” said Walter South, a member of the neighborhood’s Community Board 9, DNA.info reported. “You miss all these institutions that are incredibly interesting.”
In fairness, the district as proposed was mammoth, stretching from 108th Street to 125th Street, and from the river to Morningside Drive. There’s also some question about how much that’s missing really needs protecting. Riverside Church is already a landmark, as is Morningside Park a “scenic landmark.” Due to a bureaucratic spat, St. John the Divine is not, but no one really worries the beloved church is in danger.
Commission spokesperson Lisi de Bourbon said they’re open to the possibility of expanding the district. We’d imagine so, given that its near neighbor, the Upper West Side historic district, already covers part of an area that stretches from 62nd Street to 96th Street. With that, plus a proposed new historic district set to stretch from West 70th Street to West 109th Street, we’re definitely feeling the LPC’s love for the Upper West Side.