Landmarking 412 East 85th Street

11/12/2015

Testimony to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
Landmark Status of 412 East 85th Street

Thank you for allowing my fellow elected officials and I, as well as members of Community Board 8, the FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, and community representatives including the building’s owners to testify today on the request for landmark status for 412 East 85th Street.  

My name is Ben Kallos and I represent Council District 5, which covers the Upper East Side. I give testimony today to ask the Landmarks Preservation Commission to evaluate this home, whose structure is one of only six frame buildings left on the Upper East Side, sharing this distinction with the Mayor’s residence of Gracie Mansion.  I urge you to consider this because it is a last remaining vestige of a time when Yorkville was largely farmland. 

The land on which the home sits once belonged to the farm of Yelles Hopper, in the mid-nineteenth century, when the Yorkville neighborhood began as a rural junction of the Boston Post Road, running along what is today Third Avenue and the Hell Gate Ferry Road, which intersected at 86th street, and has become a central artery to our community. The building was constructed about five years before the 1867 fire code banned wood framing in the district. Since this time the community has grown denser, more modern and became a destination connected with great public transportation.

Granting this home landmark status not only has sentimental value of harkening back to a simpler time; it is also about appreciating the uniqueness of the building and how it adds to the intricate architecture of our neighborhood.  The structure is set back from the street, tucked amongst the neighboring buildings. Its Italianate style façade features clapboard siding, wooden shutters, a wooden cornice, and wooden double-hung windows. In addition, the building features a large wooden porch supported by old fashioned columns, and is accessed by stairs on the east side of the building.

In conclusion, with the Second Ave Subway upheaval and rapid development, 412 East 85th Street embodies a distinguishing character and visual style that is uncommon within the ever evolving and modernizing Manhattan aesthetic and provides insight to the semi‐rural Manhattan of the nineteenth century. Let’s protect our past and make it part of our future.