Amsterdam Houses/Amsterdam Addition

Amsterdam Houses
40 – 94, Amsterdam Avenue
205, 249 West 61 Street
216, 217, 241, 242, 248, 249, 250 West 62 Street
216, 217, 228, 242, 250 West 63 Street
210-218, 243 West 64 Street
247, 250 West 61 Street Drive
Amsterdam Addition

240 West 65 Street
Block: 1154
Lot: Many
Landmark Status: No

Contact:

Margarita Curet, President
Amsterdam Houses Tenant Association
216 West 62 Street, Apt 4C
New York, NY 10023
(T) 212-262-2381

Patricia Ryan, President
Amsterdam Addition Tenant Association
545 Eigth Ave., Suite 401
New York, NY 10018
(T) 212-592-3208

Kathy Howe
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Historic Preservation Field Services Bureau
Peebles Island
P.O. Box 189
Waterford, NY 12188
(T) 518-237-8643 x 3266

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Summary of site plans and status

According to the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the State Historic Preservation Office, as of August 2007 the Amsterdam Houses and Amsterdam Addition complex are National Register Eligible. According to to the New York State Historic Preservation Office, if put on the State or National Register of Historic Places Amsterdam Houses and Addition would result in:

1. Registered properties and properties determined eligible for the Registers receive a measure of protection from the effects of federal and/or state agency sponsored, licensed or assisted projects through a notice, review, and consultation process.

2. Owners of depreciable, certified historic properties may take a 20 percent federal income tax credit for the costs of substantial rehabilitation as provided for under the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

3. Municipal and not-for-profit owners of listed historic properties may apply for matching state historic preservation grants.

The single block between 61 and 64 Streets consists of 13 apartment houses. Community Works is currently working with Council Member Brewer on a program to tell the untold stories of Amsterdam Houses, involving public school students. The project will culminate in a public art exhibition which will include contemporary photographic portraits by renowned documentary photographer Ruth Morgan; archival photographs; commentary by contributing writers; and poetry and prose by local youth. the exhibition will also feature a visual art component created by youth and elders of the community, and will open in 2008 and tour city-wide.

In July 2007, Council Member Gale A. Brewer addressed the Amsterdam Houses community at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center, alongside other elected officials, at the 60th Annual Amsterdam Reunion Tribute Program and Brunch. Read the Press Release for more information about the event and the Amsterdam Houses and Amsterdam Addition complex.

The Resource Evaluation report of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, regarding the Amsterdam Houses property, between Amsterdam and West End Avenues, and between West 61-64 Streets, dated January 4, 2007, provides a Statement of Significance.

The following is an excerpt from this statement:

Amsterdam Houses represent the response by the state and local government to provide affordable housing for low-income families and returning World War II veterans. The complex was financed by a $7.7 million loan from the New York State Division of Housing though a subsidy agreement with the city. New York State was progressive at the time in that it was one of the few states with its own public housing construction programs. While the New York State Housing Law passed in 1926 encouraging the formation of local housing authorities, it had little impact locally until 1934 when NYCHA was established.

The racial and ethnic diversity of the original residents of Amsterdam Houses reflects the thinking of key planners, architects, housing reformers, and laws of post- World War II New York. NYCHA’s selection of original residents was a response to the state mandate that state-aided public housing projects bar discrimination based on race, color, creed, or religion, as well as to both state and federal laws that were passed giving returning veterans preference in public housing.

The plan and design of Amsterdam Houses reflect the progressive thinking of its prominent design team: architects Grosvenor Atterbury, Arthur C. Holden, and Harvey Wiley Corbett, and landscape architects gilmore D. Clarke and Michael Rapuano. Amsterdam Houses is notable for its open, classically-inspired plan with a central landscaped axis oriented toward the Hudson River and for the warmth and subtle articulation of its brickwork. The complex stands as one of the last publicly-funded housing developments of the post-World War II era to align with the city grid as opposed to the slightly later “tower in the park” schemes that relied on larger-scale super blocks.

The complex has undergone minor alterations including the slight widening of paths and the replacement of original windows. Despite these changes,the complex is remarkably intact to its 1948 completion date. Amsterdam Houses retain integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.

The following is quoted from a LANDMARK WEST! lecture invitation about the Amsterdam Houses in September 2006:

In 2005, LANDMARK WEST! added Amsterdam Houses to their landmark designation “wish list” as a noteworthy example of early, well-designed, racially and ethnically integrated public housing.

Built in 1947 and designed by Grosvenor Atterbury, Harvey Wiley Corbett, and Arthur C. Holden, the Amsterdam Houses on Amsterdam Avenue between 61 and 64 Streets is an example of the design that characterized New York City Public Housing projects constructed after World War II. Originally the home to many returning veterans, this complex is a reminder of the vision that guided public housing development in the first half of the twentieth century.

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