Summer Events of the Historic Districts Council of New York City

As advocate for neighborhoods not designated but meriting protection, the Historic District Council advises community groups that come to us because they are seeking historic designation. An HDC staff member meets with them in their neighborhoods to talk about what designation means and advises them how to proceed. Later, a committee of HDC tours the proposed district on foot, taking notes and photographs. With that information, we make concrete suggestions and then counsel groups on how to apply for designation, on what kind of research is necessary and how to get it done. We always stress the importance of community support and help local groups obtain it.

Sometimes HDC initiates the designation process itself, usually in nonresidential areas that do not have local community leaders. In those cases, HDC sponsors the work that would otherwise be done by a community group.

We also sponsor applications to State and National Registers of Historic Places. Listing on these Registers often helps move the designation process forward at the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

To preserve the integrity of the Landmarks Law, we monitor behavior of city government and the LPC, taking issue with actions and policies when we feel we should. HDC testifies before the City Planning Commission, the Art Commission, the Board of Standards and Appeals and the City Council, usually on the effect a proposal would have on historic neighborhoods.

Summer Events 2012

To register of any of the following Historic District Council events call 212-614-9107 ext. 13 or e-mail Advance reservations are required and space is limited.

Saturday, June 2nd, 10AM
Bike Tour of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

Part of the Six to Celebrate

Visit Bay Ridge, a quintessentially New York neighborhood filled with a variety of historic housing, well-maintained parks, vibrant commercial streets and impressive institutional buildings. As we ride along Shore Road and the bicycle path, the tour will focus on some of the open spaces and significant sites along the area closest to the waterfront including Bliss Park, the Barkaloo Cemetery, the Narrows Botanic Garden, the Arts & Crafts style Gingerbread House, the former site of the New York Crescent Club & Polo Grounds, the cul-de-sac block Colonial Gardens and the Greek Revival-style Bennett-Farrell House. The day will end with a tour of the military site, Fort Hamilton, an active base with numerous historic structures, founded in 1825.

This tour is led by led by Victoria Hofmo, founder of the Bay Ridge Conservancy. Regular fee $10, $5 for Friends of HDC. To register go to:, email or call 212-614-9107. Bikes will not be provided.

— The Secret Lives Tour event has been cancelled —

Thursday, June 7th, 5:00PM
Secret Lives Tour: Brooklyn Heights – High to Low

St. George Hotel. Photo courtesy of the Historic Districts Council.

A series of tours highlighting some of the most original and rarely seen spaces in New York. The Secret Lives Tours take attendees inside unique and spectacular landmarked spaces in the city, both big and small, to learn about their history and preservation.

Brooklyn Heights is home to a wealth of rich history. For this tour, attendees will gain access to three lesser-seen spaces. First, guests will get to visit the rooftop of the famed St. George Hotel, once the largest hotel in New York and originally famous for its entertaining spaces and celebrities who stayed here. The rooftop terrace once housed the nightspot called the “Egyptian Club”, which featured hand painted murals of exotic dessert images.  Other architectural details of the terrace included terra-cotta piers of a whimsical design.  Architect Daniel Allen of Cutsogeorge Tooman & Allen will discuss the recent process of restoring these piers while guests take in the stunning views of the city from this perspective.

Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims is famed for its abolitionist ties as well as for its and extensive and historic campus. We will visit the main sanctuary as well as view the magnificent stained glass Tiffany windows located within the Church. Guests will also have the option to view several other exhibits on display within the Arcade of the Church, an award winning restoration project that faces the beautiful Beecher Garden.

The program concludes with an optional tour of the Brooklyn Historical Society. The Society’s home was designed by architect George B. Post in the Renaissance Revival style and includes busts of famed historians as well as the original name of the society, the Long Island Historical Society. Visitors will also get to see the Victorian-era wood-paneled library, generally not open to the public.

Inside the Brooklyn Historical Society. Photo courtesy of Historic Districts Council.

Brooklyn Heights: High and Low – St. George Hotel, Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims and Brooklyn Historical Society is limited to 20 people. Regular fee is $60, $40 for Friends of HDC. Register today by going to or email 212-614-9107.

Monday, June 11th, 6:30PM
Film Screen & Discussion: The Bungalows of Rockaway

After a sold-out screening of the film’s excerpts in 2008, HDC brings back the popular 2010 documentary film, “The Bungalows of Rockaway,” produced by Jennifer Callahan and Elizabeth Logan Harris. The film highlights the rich history of the Rockaway bungalows, lasting more than 100 years. Although by 1933 there were more than 7,000 bungalows dotting the peninsula, fewer than 500 remain today. The documentary, narrated by Oscar-winner Estelle Parsons, features rare archival footage, maps, and interviews with historians, prominent New Yorkers, and several of the longtime residents and vacationers. A Critic’s Pick by Time Out New York.

One of many historic homes included in The Bungalows of Rockaway. Photo courtesy of the HDC.

In 2012, HDC named the Far Rockaway Beach Bungalows to its Six to Celebrate list, six historic New York City neighborhoods that merit preservation as priorities for HDC’s advocacy and consultation over a yearlong period. HDC is working with the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association to get the remaining bungalows of Beach 24th, 25th and 26th Streets on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and to raise awareness about this irreplaceable part of New York City’s history.

The screening will be followed by a Q & A session and discussion with Richard George, executive director of the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association; Nancy Solomon, director of Long Island Traditions and author of the National Register nomination; David Selig, owner of Rockaway Taco; Jeanne DuPont of Rockaway Waterfront Alliance, and the filmmakers. The program will be moderated by journalist Eve M. Kahn.  Please join us for this event and discover the unique history of The Bungalows of Rockaway as well as what the future holds for this culturally rich and diverse area.

Admission is $10 for the general public, $5 for Friends of HDC, seniors and students. A limited number of complimentary tickets will be available to Far Rockaway residents. To purchase tickets or for more information, go to or email 212-614-9107.

Movie Review

Fun, informative and empowering. What a combo. This loving portrait of the vibrant bungalow community of Rockaway captures the history and challenge of preserving an American vernacular architectural form that made vacations affordable and memorable for a century to working people. No less poignant is the struggle to preserve remaining bungalows against the onslaught of developers and gentrifiers. New Yorkers will love this look at their famous Queens beach community, but the story of an American iconic form — its legacy and the struggle to preserve it — resonates as well with countless tales of destructive American urban ‘development’ and ‘renewal.’ – Daniel Walkowitz, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, History, New York University

Monday, July 9th, 6PM
Walking Tour of Morningside Heights, Manhattan
Part of the Six to Celebrate

Morningside Heights. Photo courtesy of HDC.

Morningside Heights is characterized by architecturally-unified apartment buildings and row houses and is home to the largest concentration of institutions in the city. The neighborhood is situated between Riverside Park and Morningside Park, two scenic landmarks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The Morningside Heights Historic District Committee is working towards city designation of this elegant neighborhood developed mainly between 1900 and 1915. Andrew Scott Dolkart will examine the diverse architecture of the neighborhood and the tour will also feature a short discussion of current preservation efforts with a representative from the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee.

This walking tour is led by Andrew Scott Dolkart, architectural historian and author of “Morningside Heights: A History of It’s Architecture & Development.” Fee $10, $5 for Friends of HDC. To register go to: or email 212-614-9107.

Saturday, July 14th, 10:30AM
Walking Tour of Far Rockaway Beachside Bungalows, Queens
Part of the Six to Celebrate

Once upon a summertime, Far Rockaway was the vacation spot for working-class New Yorkers.  Although recent decades have erased much of this history, just off the Boardwalk on Beach 24th, 25th, and 26th Streets rows of beach bungalows built between 1918 and 1921 still stand.  The Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association is seeking to preserve and revitalize this unique collection of approximately 100 buildings. Guide Nancy Solomon will discuss this unique grouping and attendees will get to see inside several bungalows, many of which retain their simplicity and historic charm. For those interested in a day at the beach afterward, the boardwalk is just steps away!

This tour is led by Nancy Solomon, folklorist and executive director of Long Island Traditions. Fee $10, $5 for Friends of HDC. To register go to: or email 212-614-9107.

Saturday, September 15th, 11:00AM
Bike Tour of Victorian Flatbush, Brooklyn
Part of Six to Celebrate

Victorian home of Flatbush. Photos courtesy of HDC.

Located in the heart of Brooklyn, Victorian Flatbush is known for being the largest concentration of wooden Victorian-style homes in the country. The area presently has five New York City Historic Districts, but the blocks in between them remain undesignated and unprotected despite architecture of the same vintage and style.  Six local groups representing Beverly Square East, Beverly Square West, Caton Park, Ditmas Park West, South Midwood and West Midwood have joined together with the Flatbush Development Corporation to “complete the quilt” of city designation of their neighborhoods. Nicole Francis, one of the leaders of this effort will take attendees on a leisurely ride through this picturesque community. Bikes will not be provided.

This tour is led Nicole Francis, Beverly Square East Neighborhood Association. Fee $10, $5 for Friends of HDC. To register go to: or email 212-614-9107.

Saturday, September 22nd, 12PM
Bike Tour of Port Morris Gantries, Brooklyn
Part of Six to Celebrate

Photo courtesy of HDC.

In the South Bronx neighborhood of Port Morris, a pair of ferry gantries deteriorating in an empty lot may seem an eyesore to some, but the Friends of Brook Park sees them as the centerpiece to an engaging public space. Taking inspiration from other New York City waterside parks, this new park will combine recreation, education, and preservation of New York’s history for residents and visitors alike. This tour will visit the exterior of the gantries site but also examine other historic areas of Port Morris. A limited number of bicycles are available upon advance request, otherwise bikes will not be provided.

The tour is led by Harry J. Bubbins, director of Friends of Brook Park. Fee $10, $5 for Friends of HDC. To register go to: or email 212-614-9107.

To Register for These Events

To register of any of the following Historic District Council events call 212-614-9107 ext. 13 or e-mail Advance reservations are required and space is limited.

More about Six to Celebrate

Six to Celebrate is generously supported by The New York Community Trust. Additional support for the Six to Celebrate Tours is provided by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and from New York City Councilmembers Inez Dickens, Daniel Garodnick, Stephen Levin and Rosie Mendez.



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