Sunday, November 8, 2009
Although many people think of New York City as a place that never looks back, it has managed to retain a wealth of architectural evidence from the past, even as it has experienced significant losses. In his book Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City's Landmarks (2008), Anthony Wood describes New York's historic preservation legacy, one that goes far beyond the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Penn Central. (Historic preservation aficionados know this case as the first to uphold historic preservation as a valid public policy; most others associate it with the regulatory takings test the Court established there.) Describing an overlooked period in the development of the preservation movement in New York--1913 to 1965--Wood gives insight into the origins of the City's Landmarks Law. This nationally recognized law, Wood demonstrates, didn't spring into being merely because of the destruction of Pennsylvania Station, but also resulted from the culmination of the efforts of forgotten civic leaders on behalf of a wide range of equally important historic properties. Their work lives on in the rich and varied city we appreciate today and in the laws that protect it.
Will Cook, Charleston School of Law