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Landmark evaluation request for 1710 Broadway Building.

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, November 10, 2022, the following resolution passed with a vote of 37 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, The building was and remains a rare, elegant architectural solution designed by a world-renown architect and is symbolic of what New York City represents to the world: freedom, cultural diversity, innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity, equity, and progress; and

WHEREAS, The building is located on Broadway between West 55th and West 54th Street and extends partially down West 54th towards 7th Avenue; and

WHEREAS, The building is a six-story building completed in 1919 that epitomizes the early 20th Century loft-style building type that architect Albert Kahn, arguably the foremost American industrial architect of the 20C, virtually invented; and

WHEREAS, The architect, Albert Kahn, an award-winning architectural pioneer, considered the father of industrial architecture with over 20,000 completed projects during his lifetime, rose from a German immigrant Jew to one of the most prolific and influential industrial architects of the 20C; and

WHEREAS, The building was built by one of the most iconic and influential industrialists in history, Henry Ford, who made the automobile available and affordable to the middle and working classes, doubled the average wage that ensured a stable work force, and changed and shaped the lifestyle, culture and economy of NYC, our state and country incalculably; and 

WHEREAS, The building meets the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) criteria “as part of a historic district”, as The Ford Motor Company’s Northeastern Showroom and Headquarters, located on NY Automobile Row, “Where Ford Reigned” as per The New York Times, considered “a milestone” along the one and a half mile stretch of showrooms from the West 40s to the West 70s in the early 1900s; and 

WHEREAS, The purchase of the 1710 lot by Ford made the headlines in 1916; the building praised in newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals, was notable for its strategic location, praised for its elegant showroom, and called one of the “Marquee Attractions in Midtown” (The New York Times, 2011); and

WHEREAS, The LPC acknowledged Historic Automobile Row and designated other auto row buildings, the 1710 Broadway building remained undesignated despite being one of the last remaining examples of New York Automobile Row and only example of its type in NYC; and

WHEREAS, The building meets the LPC criteria “as representing a style of architecture of an era in the city’s history” the early 20C (20th century?) loft-style design is considered an accomplishment of construction that utilized reinforced concrete and created remarkable open spaces with few columns—along with vast multi story glass windows—ALL without sacrificing structural strength; and

WHEREAS, The building was intentionally designed by Kahn for Henry Ford-making it akin to a finely designed tool - like a Ford car - in order to stand apart from the other auto row showrooms built along Broadway in the early 1900s; and

WHEREAS, The white limestone building, adorned with Albert Kahn’s trademark martini columns, vast plate glass windows, ornamental carved spandrel plaques (known to be crafted by sculptor Corrado Parducci) and its rare and distinctive shallow hipped red tile roof, remains an elegant, innovative design from 1919 that still stands today; and

WHEREAS, The building meets the LPC criteria “of having a special character or special historic or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the city, state or nation” as having been the selected headquarters of three companies and organizations all of which have had an immeasurable impact on the 20th Century and beyond; and

WHEREAS, The building became The Ford Motor Company Northeastern Showroom and Headquarters; built and owned one of our country’s most iconic and leading industrialists, Henry Ford, whose impact on the 20C and beyond is immeasurable; and

WHEREAS, The building was the Headquarters of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) for six decades, hand-selected by David Dubinsky, an immigrant from Belarus who rose from a garment cutter in NYC to the President of The ILGWU and who choose the 1710 Broadway Building as a symbol of American achievement, equality and advancement; and

WHEREAS, The ILGWU was the one of the largest and most influential unions in the United States with primarily female membership, changed the course of history and was the undisputed key player in giving rights to women, Jews, immigrants and all labors in New York City, establishing and cementing rights for workers throughout NYC and the United States; and 

WHEREAS, as the Headquarters of the ILGWU was visited by every United States President and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton; and

WHEREAS, As the Headquarters of the ILGWU was visited by America’s First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, who spoke at the 1710 Broadway Building and personally inducted NYC Women into the service brigade in 1944; and

WHEREAS, Was the first American union to negotiate an unemployment compensation fund that was contributed to by employers and pioneered an extremely progressive health care program, education program, and courses in citizenship and the English Language; and

WHEREAS, The building was the Headquarters of Bad Boy Entertainment Worldwide, hand-selected by Sean “Diddy” Combs, renown music and media entertainment entrepreneur and artist, for his entertainment and media headquarters in 1992; and

WHEREAS, Sean “Diddy” Combs was born in Harlem, became a record producer at 23, and while at 1710, the Bad Boy Entertainment label was voted number one rap label in 1995 by Billboard, it included artists such as Chris Mack, Notorious B.I.G, Faith Evans, Ma$e, 112, and Total; and

WHEREAS, The building is located in the aesthetic, historic beauty of the West 50s, is adjoined to the 1904 beaux arts style Hotel Woodward, now The Dream Hotel, and located across from the Ed Sullivan Theater, both a National and NY Historic Landmark, built in 1926; and

WHEREAS, The building is adjoined to an 11-story 1903 Beaux Arts residential building called The Albemarle on West 54th;  opposite from The Adlon, a 12 story residential building designed by legendary architect brothers, George and Edward Blum in 1912; and across from The Ameritania Hotel, a 12 story Beaux-Arts hotel completed in 1902; and

WHEREAS, Architectural historians, educators, authors, the Kahn foundation including the granddaughter of Albert Kahn, former leaders with the ILGWU including the granddaughter of the ILGWU’s David Dubinsky, historic preservationists, local businesses, and residents have wanted to landmark the 1710 Broadway Building for many years; and

WHEREAS, According to correspondence provided by LPC regarding the building, in 2008, LPC Chair and senior staff expressed interest in designating the building as an individual landmark; and

WHEREAS, Quotes from letters provided by architectural historians, scholars and authors in support of landmarking the 1710 Broadway Building, focused on Albert Kahn include; and

WHEREAS, Michael H. Hodges, Author, “Building the Modern World: Albert Kahn in Detroit” Wayne State University Press, Spring 2022 wrote “I write in support of landmarking 1710 Broadway, a rare New York building by Albert Kahn, the Detroit architect belatedly recognized as a foundation stone of architectural modernism.It is one of New York’s only examples by an exceptional architect who exercised more influence on the genesis of architectural modernism than almost anyone else”; and

WHEREAS, Claire Zimmerman, Historian of the Work of Kahn Associates, Associate Professor, U. of Michigan, Department of History of Art/Architecture  March 2022 wrote “Kahn was not simply a designer of proto-modern industrial buildings. He was, rather, responsible for a massive industrialization of architectural processes. His buildings are industrialized, whether they are factories, office buildings, or homes. They represent a fundamental change in building production in the United States across the board. Albert Kahn & Associates changed the way architecture firms in the United States did business.” ; and

WHEREAS, Catlin Wunderlich, Historian, Albert Kahn Associates August 2021 wrote,  “The automobile was reordering modern life, which Kahn responded to in his grasp on modernity. The Ford Sales Building, Broadway, New York, was possibly the first building in New York to be designed in the modern spirit now used generally. The use of detail was regarded as an essential element of design and as a test of the designer’s skill in telling the story of today to meet this condition much thought and study was used to evolve new types of design in detail which would harmonize with present day conditions in material, in construction, and in expressing our present day form of culture and civilization.”; and

WHEREAS, Three members of the public spoke in support of the request for landmark designation, beginning with Caitlin Wunderlich of the Albert Kahn Foundation, on how Kahn revolutionized the field of architecture with his innovative practice that blended the creative and technical talents of architects and engineers, followed by Francoise Bollack, an architect and the Chair of the City Club of New York, who noted that the building is a rare survivor; that has a lot of integrity with the façade remaining as was originally designed, and that she learns from such buildings (in talent, resourcefulness, and context); and though not codified in their rules, given the climate emergency, the LPC should pay attention to the deleterious, polluting effects of demolition; And finally, Edgar Romney, Secretary-Treasurer, Workers United/SEIU (successor to the ILGWU) spoke to the consideration for the historic union legacy of the building and the immeasurable contributions of the ILGWU to NYC, our state and country; and

WHEREAS, A letter in support was also submitted to the Board Office by Edward Parran, a resident on West 54th and neighbor formerly with the LPC wrote: “I find it incomprehensible that this building was not designated years ago. Clearly it qualifies under the LPC’s own criteria “a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage or cultural characteristics of the city, state or nation”. .. It remains substantially unaltered and intact, a testament to the quality of its 100+years design and construction.” ; and

WHEREAS, Historic buildings are a driver of growth in Midtown, with occupancy favored by tech companies (Apple, Meta, Google to name a few); therefore, be it 

RESOLVED that Community Board Five requests that LPC evaluate the building located at 1710 Broadway for individual landmark designation. 

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