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The limits of Landmarks: The city needs intelligent preservation; it also needs development

The city Landmarks Preservation Commission was created in 1962 and a Landmarks Law passed in 1965 in reaction to a wave of “urban renewal” gone awry — particularly after the awful destruction of Penn Station, a beautiful Beaux-Arts cathedral.

The commission was supposed to protect historically, culturally and aesthetically important buildings and neighborhoods from being destroyed, “foster civic pride,” stabilize city property values and strengthen the economy. But too often, it’s been cynically weaponized not to protect existing treasures but to block development.

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