Wednesday, March 29, 2006

out of the past

Conrad Mulcahy of the New York Times says, “Scratch the surface of this city and you never know what you'll find,” but in this case, I actually knew.

As the Tunnel Garage is stripped of its crappy modern signage in preparation for its demise, the building is revealing more and more of its unique beauty. In this case, the jewel in the crown, a terracotta relief of a Model T emerging from the Holland Tunnel, has been uncovered, and Mulcahy was kind enough to write about it in Tuesday’s Metro section.

I saw the “medallion,” as the article and the community have come to call it, before it was covered over a decade ago, and because of that, and so much more, I have been fighting to save the garage from the boundless greed of the developers who want to destroy it only to plop another cheap, ugly, mirrored-glass high-rise in its place.

It is almost amusing to read the Times article and hear Robert Esnard, speaking for the developers, talk of “reusing the medallion and other decorative elements” in their new luxury high-rise when Esnard and his Architect, Stephen Jacobs, expressed nothing but open disdain for the Tunnel Garage at hearings before Community Board #2 last summer. They called the garage “unremarkable,” and called desires to save the façade and medallion “faux historicism.”

The community worked with preservationists, local government, and private foundations and came up with a way to preserve the exterior elements of the garage and still make the developers over $11 million of pure profit in the first year alone. Esnard rejected the plan.

The fact is the developers have never seen the garage as anything but an impediment to their making a killing in residential real estate.

It’s really quite simple, if the Tunnel Garage were designated a New York City landmark, then the medallion and all the other wonderful architectural elements would be preserved for Esnard—and everyone else—to admire.

Please take a few moments to read Mulcahy’s article, then take another minute to drop the Times a note stating your support for landmarks designation for the Tunnel Garage (letters “at” nytimes-dot-com).

You might also want to cc that letter to Robert Tierney, Chair of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. . . or maybe call. More information can be found in this previous post.

And, if you are in the area, stop by and take a look at the medallion It’s special, and it’s not often you get such a vivid glimpse into the past.


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