A ‘Haven for Radicals and Liberals’ Moves Closer to Landmark Status


An early headquarters of the NAACP in Greenwich Village and residential to quite a few civil rights and activist teams moved one step nearer to being landmarked.

The 12-story Beaux Arts type constructing, situated at 70 fifth Avenue, was in-built 1912 by architect Charles Alonzo Wealthy and nearly instantly grew to become, within the phrases of 1 chronicler, “a haven for radicals and liberals.”

Along with the NAACP, the constructing housed the Nationwide Civil Liberties Bureau, a bunch fashioned to help conscientious objectors through the first World Warfare earlier than it modified its title to the American Civil Liberties Union; the League for the Abolition of Capital Punishment; and the Citizen’s Nationwide Committee for Sacco-Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants and anarchists who had been sentenced to demise after a extremely politicized homicide trial.

“Whereas right here, the NAACP undertook groundbreaking, profitable campaigns which affected the lives of thousands and thousands and altered the course of historical past in our nation,” wrote Geoffrey E. Eaton, President of the group’s Mid-Manhattan department, in a letter of help, including that the NAACP’s agenda was “extremely controversial and confronted widespread opposition.”

It was at this web site, wrote Eaton, that the NAACP started its marketing campaign to struggle lynching by flying a flag with the phrases, “A Man Was Lynched Yesterday,” a picture that has grow to be iconic within the many years since. It additionally fought the racist portrayal of African People in D.W. Griffith’s blockbuster however now disgraced white supremacist movie “The Delivery of a Nation,” launched in 1915.

Andrew Berman, the chief director of Village Preservation, mentioned the neighborhood on the time noticed “politics, artwork and commerce, all coming collectively,” and feeding off each other, “creating a complete greater than the sum of its elements.”

Jon Ritter, an architectural historian at NYU, mentioned that on architectural advantage alone, 70 fifth Avenue deserves to be landmarked. However he argued that landmarking is shifting away from the orthodoxy of fifty years in the past, when it targeted much more on Anglican church buildings or the pristine rowhouse structure of the outdated Anglo-Saxon ruling class, in an effort to additionally consider the folks and historical past inside these constructions.

“How will we protect a broader swath of historic buildings to inform a broader story of our historical past and our heritage that goes past the patronage of elite, white males?”

The constructing was calendared by the Landmarks Preservation Fee on January nineteenth, a essential step within the course of to in the end being landmarked. The Fee has but to schedule a date for a public listening to on the constructing, which can happen within the coming months.

Arun Venugopal experiences for the Race and Justice Unit at Gothamist/WNYC.