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Resource Referral Service
The Resource Database links inquiries related to neighborhood improvement, community revitalization, and historic preservation to the organizations, institutions and individuals that can assist. The database was custom-designed with May First Technology Collective. A search generates a list of resources that match the criteria you've entered. From this list you may read through each profile and identify the resources that might best assist you. If you have any problems with your search, please consult the Search Tips . If you are still unable to find what you are searching for, please contact the Center via phone, fax or email so we may continue the search.
In order to showcase the different ways to utilize our Resource Center and its Referral Service, we have compiled a few case studies of how the service has been used:
Case 5: Is It a Landmark?
In November 2012, we received a call asking why the designation report for the Basilica of Our Perpetual Help in Sunset Park, Brooklyn was not in our database. The caller was referring to a note in its Wikipedia page, which referred to the church an "architectural landmark" with no footnote, inspiring her to search for a designation report on our website. Our first step in our response to her inquiry was to perform both keyword and title searches in our NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission Designation Report Database to verify that there was not a report for the church. After also coming up empty-handed, we wanted to make sure that the church was indeed a designated New York City landmark. A simple way to do so was to turn to the City's Building Information System. The BIS profile of the property did not give it landmark status, which is usually the most definitive answer, but to double-check, we looked at the most recent edition of the Guide to New York City Landmarks and recent designation reports that have been added to the Landmark Preservation Commission's website. Not finding any official designation, we determined that the Basilica of Our Perpetual Help is not a designated NYC Landmark, clarifying the Wikipedia entry.
For researchers or property owners who are looking for official word from LPC on the landmark status of a building they could go a step further and request a letter from LPC here.
Case 4: Student Research
In May 2012, we received an inquiry from a Graduate Architecture student abroad in Argentina. The student asked if we could help her find more technical and historic information on the Bowery Savings Bank (116 Bowery) as access is limited to her overseas. We responded that this information can be accessed online through a number of different online resources. The first site we referred her to was our own designation report database, which includes pdf files of original landmark designation reports that contain historic, architectural, and social information. We also suggested that stories about the site might be in the New York Times archive or the Avery Architectural Library Database, based in Columbia University. For more technical and alteration history, we referred were the New York City Building Information System which provides details such as how many elevators a building may have and any violations that may have occurred in the past. The New York City Municipal Archives also has building records and New York City Department of Records Municipal Archives Tax Photograph Collection is a great resource for photographs. Our website's Resource Center tab provides links to most of these websites.
Case 3: Greening Historic Buildings
In Fall 2011 we received a question asking: "Do you happen to have any links to interesting articles, blogs, etc that would discuss the topic of updating historic buildings to run more energy efficiently?". We responded that a good resource for information about the topic nationally is available on the website of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. They have also launched the Preservation Green Lab which is doing some really interesting experimentation and data gathering on the topic. More locally, the Municipal Art Society held a Conference on Preservation and Climate Change in New York City in 2010 that included a panel called "Greening Landmarks" that they could also review. MAS is also doing a greening demonstration project on the historic site Henry Street Settlement. It is partnership with the Pratt Center for Community Development, who has also partnered with the group Retrofit NYC on another campaign called Retrofit NYC Block by Block to increase the energy efficiency of older homes on the neighborhood level. Some tags in the Referral Service for these organizations are Energy Efficiency, Retrofits, Green Lab, and National Trust.
Case 2: Graffiti Removal
When the brownstone bandcourse on the facade of the Historic Ernest Flagg Rectory was tagged with graffiti Fall 2011, we searched the database for organizations that provide technical assistance for historic preservation in Manhattan. The New York Landmarks Conservancy's entry included this line: "TECHNICAL SERVICES CENTER-offers advice to non-profit organizations and private property owners on the care of older buildings on a range of topics from graffiti removal to selection of contractors". We called their Preservation Hotline and told them that the graffiti was a waxy substance that was not spray-paint based. Based on the conversation, we determined that we would need to consult a restoration company. In addition, the Conservancy's website provides a list of professionals. The Conservancy is tagged in the Referral Service under Advocacy, Grants/Loans/Funding, Historic Preservation, Architecture, Technical Assistance, Landmarks and Publications.
Case 1: Places that Matter
In Summer 2011, we received an inquiry that asked: "In what ways could a culturally (but not architecturally) significant place in a community, such as our longstanding martial arts studio in the Bronx, protect and promote its heritage outside of landmarking?" Our response was that Place Matters is a great resource for people looking to acknowledge, celebrate and seek to protect important or endangered places in New York . The first step in the Place Matters Toolkit is to define the project-to identify values, find people who care, identify opportunities and threats, and formulate goals. Articulating how the site is valuable (history/memory, longstanding use, or community enhancement) would help them advocate for the site. Other steps include finding alternative ways to protect the structure, retaining longstanding use, or interpreting the site's story through a presentation or exhibit that might incite community support. They also have a database of Places That Matter. Here are some of results of some places that might be relevant examples for the dojo. Place Matters is tagged in the Referral Service under Advocacy, Public Art:, Archives, Historic Preservation, Public Spaces, Architecture, History, Conservation, Technical Assistance, Cultural Heritage, and Landmarks.
To begin your own search of the Resource Database click here.
Photo Credit: Susan De Vries, 2011