Astor Place
Iwan Baan Astor Place

New York’s unprecedented Landmark Law, signed in April 1965, played a contributing role in the rebirth of the city’s final decades in the 20th century, with the purpose of protecting the buildings and places that represent the city’s cultural, social, economic, political, and architectural history. Neighborhoods bred pride, preservation throughout the boroughs garnered popularity, and fresh economic activity spurred in older communities. Starting this April, the Museum of the City of New York will exhibit Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks, in conjunction with the law’s 50th anniversary.

Demolition of Pennsylvania Station, 1964-65
Museum of the City of New York, Gift of Aaron Rose Demolition of Pennsylvania Station, 1964-65

“Saving Place and the history of the landmarks law underscores how civic and business leaders, grass roots activists, and design professionals have come together to create a contemporary New York City that blends old and new in a dynamic urbanism,” said Susan Henshaw Jones, the Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibition will highlight examples of the law’s achievements as well as its controversies, such as the eternal debate over what requirements dictate landmark status and the ever-present construction of new buildings in historic districts.

JFK Airport, Queens
Museum of the City of New York, Gift of Blair Davis JFK Airport, Queens

Also featured will be panoramic photographs of modern-day New York depicting the intertwining old and new architecture, building pieces, documents, drawings, maps, infographics, and interactive activities. For the preservation aficionados, the exhibit will display innovative preservation and restoration technologies (including models of Diane von Furstenberg’s offices in the Meatpacking District and Norman Foster’s glass skyscraper atop the Art Deco Hearst Building), and their evolution throughout the second half of the century. “Saving Place traces the trajectory of New York’s preservation movement, highlighting the contributions of a dynamic group of people from grass-roots preservations to government officials and celebrated architects,” said Donald Albrecht, the Museum’s Curator for Architecture and Design.

131-135 Hicks Street
Museum of the City of New York, Photo Archives 131-135 Hicks Street

Architect Wendy Evans Joseph, FAIA, designed the exhibition along with graphic design firm NR2154, led by Jacob Wildschiødtz. There will be a symposium on April 20, along with lectures, discussions, and walking tours.

The exhibition will run from April 21 to September 13, 2015.

New York Post Office, 1902
Museum of the City of New York, Gift of Anthony C. Wood New York Post Office, 1902