Press Releases

50 Years of Historic Landmarking in New York City

March 7th 2016 / Download PDF

New York, NY: A report released today by the NYU Furman Center, Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in New York City, shows the extent of preservation in New York City and compares the land use, housing stock, demographic characteristics, and commercial property in historic districts with those in areas that are not regulated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

The report shows the varied extent of LPC regulation among the city's boroughs and neighborhoods. While 27 percent of lots in Manhattan are LPC-regulated, just 3.4 percent of lots citywide are LPC-regulated.  In the case of interior or individual landmark designations, Manhattan had 837 protected lots, more than twice the number of lots covered in the remaining boroughs combined.
 
“There are multiple lenses through which we can view historic preservation in New York City. This report highlights some of the differences between landmarked and other areas and also identifies some surprising similarities,” said Ingrid Gould Ellen, faculty director of the NYU Furman Center. “For instance, parcels in historic districts are built out to the same density on average as unregulated parcels in the same community district.”

Citywide, New York City’s historic districts are more densely populated and have a greater built density than areas not regulated by the LPC, according to the report. But when comparing historic districts to non-LPC-regulated areas nearby, the report finds that historic districts have about the same levels of population and built density. Historic districts also saw fewer new buildings, but similar alteration activity compared to nearby areas not regulated by the LPC.

Multifamily rental units located within historic districts were significantly more likely to be market rate. Within historic districts, 56.6 percent of rental units were market rate, compared to just 30.5 percent of rental units on lots not regulated by the LPC.  Public housing units and privately-owned, income-restricted subsidized units made up a much smaller share of the rental units within historic districts. Only 0.3 percent of total rental units in historic districts were public housing units, compared to 12.1 percent of the non-LPC-regulated rental stock, and only 2.7 percent of total rental units in historic districts were privately-owned, income-restricted subsidized units, compared to 10.5 percent of the non-LPC-regulated rental stock.

Consistent with these differences in rental housing stock, the residents of historic districts were higher-income, more highly educated, and more likely to be non-Hispanic white than residents of non-LPC-regulated areas. In Brooklyn and Manhattan, for example, the mean income for households living in neighborhoods mostly inside a historic district was more than double that of households living in census tracts fully outside of the historic district.
 
“We hope these findings offer a useful snapshot of the nature of historic preservation in New York City,” said Ellen.

 

BRIEFING: NYU Furman Center researchers will hold webinar briefing on the report findings on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 from 3:00-4:00pm EST. Advance registration is required. 

POLICY BRIEF: Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in New York City

WHITE PAPER: Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in New York City
 

Summary of Key Findings

1. By 2014, city-wide just 3.4 percent of New York City lots were located inside an area covered by LPC designation, but a high concentration of Manhattan lots, 27 percent, were in a designated area. 

  • The corresponding lot coverage in other boroughs was 5.2 percent in Brooklyn, 3.2 percent in the Bronx, 3.1 percent in Staten Island, and 1.6 percent in Queens.
  • Most historic districts are concentrated in just a few areas of New York City, including Manhattan south of 14th Street, the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, the areas surrounding downtown Brooklyn, and Prospect Park.

2. On average, historic districts were as densely populated and had the same built density than other areas in the same community district.

  • While historic district lots were generally built to the same density as other lots within their same community district, they tended to use up more of their development potential, as they were zoned, on average, to somewhat lower allowable density.
  • On average, census tracts that were mostly included in a historic district had the same population density as tracts in the same community district that were fully outside of historic districts.

3. Historic districts saw fewer new buildings but similar alteration activity compared to nearby non-LPC-regulated areas.

  • Within historic districts, six out of every 1,000 lots saw a new building constructed between 2004 and 2014, compared to 39 out of every 1,000 lots outside of historic districts.
  • Lots in historic districts saw the same levels of officially recorded alteration activity between 2004 and 2014 as non-LPC-designated lots in the same community district.

4. Historic districts had a higher market-rate share of multifamily rental units than non-LPC-regulated areas.

  • Within historic districts, 56.6 percent of multifamily rental units were market rate, as compared to 30.5 percent of rental units on lots unregulated by the LPC.
  • Only 0.3 percent of total multifamily rental units in historic districts were public housing units, as compared to 12.1 percent of the rental stock not regulated by LPC.
  • Only 2.7 percent of total rental units in historic districts were privately-owned, income restricted subsidized units, as compared to 10.5 percent of the rental stock not regulated by LPC.
  • Rental units on the lots in designated areas were less likely to be rent-regulated, but were no more likely to exit rent regulation than other units in the same neighborhood.

5. Residents of historic districts were higher-income, more highly educated and more likely to be non-Hispanic white than residents of non-LPC-regulated areas.

  • In Brooklyn and Manhattan, the mean income for households living in census tracts mostly inside a historic district was more than double households living in tracts fully outside of the historic district.
  • In Brooklyn, 69 percent of adult residents in census tracts mostly included in historic districts held college degrees as compared to just 27 percent of those in tracts outside of districts.
  • Citywide, 63 percent of residents of tracts mostly covered by a historic district were non-Hispanic white, compared with 30 percent in tracts not at all covered by a historic district.

 

For more information, contact: Shannon Moriarty, shannon.moriarty@nyu.edu