Preserving the Seaport

The Seaports historic character.  from Dan Brunos flickr.

The Seaport's 'historic character'. from Dan Bruno's flickr.

Is this for real?  The Historic Districts Council of New York thinks that re-developing the failed South Street Seaport would disrupt the area’s historic character.  This is why I think most preservation projects are really dumb – the South Street Seaport is functionally a mall right now, and an empty, boring one at that.  This stopped being a historic location when the fish-market was moved out, and when the waterfront became a luxury housing destination rather than a working class neighborhood – the upscale development that exists there now represents a fundamental rejection of what the waterfront meant for New York.  The landmarking process always comes up in favor of the wealthier upper class neighborhoods – the Lower East Side rezoning that ‘preserves’ 70% of CB3’s white housing but about a quarter of housing for families of color demonstrates how this process works.  Development is the priority until enough people with clout (ie privilege) get angry, and then the Community Boards or whoever suddenly changes tack and supports a rezoning or landmarking.  Bullshit.

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One response to “Preserving the Seaport

  1. The Seaport has sucked for as long as I can remember. Much like anti-gentrification movements, preservation movements often hinge on a series of erroneous assumptions and false dichotomies (pushed, intentionally or otherwise, by the leaders of these movements COUGHGREENWICHVILLAGEPRESERVATIONSOCIETYCOUCHCHCOECHEOC). That’s not to say that neither of these things have their place, because they certainly do, but too often they seek to preserve what isn’t worth preserving and, by failing to yeild even the slightest bit, end up failing altogether at a task that wasn’t worth persuing in the first place.

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