Jul 23rd, 2007 // 7 Comments

New York has declared 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx a holy site for hip-hop fans, finally granting the building the status of a historic landmark. 1520 Sedgwick is where DJ Kool Herc manned the wheels of steel in the 1970s, spinning at parties in the building’s community room. [XXL]

  1. Dickdogfood

    Holy crud, that’s awesome! This might put the site on the fast track to being named to the National Register of Historic Places.

    Note that CBGBs wasn’t ever landmarked. I’m not even sure the Brill Building is, though I know it was under consideration as of 1993.

  2. the rich girls are weeping

    Finally! Awesome.

  3. Dickdogfood

    It’s also interesting because landmark boards on the city, state, and national level are usually loathe to honor buildings or structures that made their mark a mere thirty-or-less years ago. To take one example near and dear to my heart: out of 500+ Manhattan sites on the National Registry of Historic Places, only three date from after WWII (the Guggenheim Museum, Lever House, and the Seagram Building).

  4. mike a

    Very cool, but here’s a question that only a third-year law student like myself could possibly care about:

    1520 Sedgwick is a housing project owned by the NYCHA, right? So how does this designation affect the residential portion of the building? In other words, what happens if the city wants to tear down the building? High-rise housing projects have fallen out of favor since the 1980s, and many cities are tearing them down and replacing them with lower-rise structures (like Chicago with Cabrini-Green). Are you enjoined from doing that once your building is on the city register?

  5. Anonymous

    Pretty cool news!

  6. Dickdogfood

    @mike a:

    I’m a little hazy on the issue myself, but my understanding is that becoming a landmark doesn’t necessarily make the alteration or demolition of a government-owned building absolutely impossible so much as subject to review by various gov’t entities — what can or cannot be done to a site designated as a landmark by whatever authority may be defined by any number of laws passed on the state or local level.

    (Private property is a different matter altogether: for example, according to the Nat’l Park Service, “Under Federal law, owners of private property listed in the National Register are free to maintain, manage, or dispose of their property as they choose provided that there is no Federal involvement. Owners have no obligation to open their properties to the public, to restore them or even to maintain them, if they choose not to do so.”)

  7. marypk

    Mike A and Dickdogfood: 1520 Sedgwick is not owned by NYCHA – it is part of the Mitchell-Lama housing program, meaning it is a privately-owned, state subsidized building. IF the owner were to buy out of the M-L program, which they are currently trying to do, rents would sky-rocket and many tenants would surely be displaced (at least eventually, if not immediately). Right now, the historic landmark designation only prevents change to the building’s physical character (meaning, it could not be demolished). Organizers and tenants are contenting though that a change to the historic tenancy (middle and low-income residents) WOULD in fact change the building’s character. We’ll see how far they (or actually, we, since I work at Tenants & Neighbors, one of the groups working on this) get with this argument. One thing’s for sure, though: media and blog attention to the issue can’t hurt. So talk about it!

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