The Case for and Against Landmarking: A Look at the Proposed Bedford District in Bed Stuy


As REBNY fights landmarking across the city, The New York Times looked at the arguments pro and con for landmarking the proposed Bedford Historic District in Bed Stuy. For those who’ve been following the landmarking fight all along, there isn’t anything new here. But there are some fantastic quotes from our columnist Montrose Morris and reader and preservationist Claudette Brady, a founder of the Bedford Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation.

“Bedford Stuyvesant is a hard-working community of proud people who, when the city and government failed them, took back the streets, one block at a time,” said preservationist and Montrose Morris columnist Suzanne Spellen. “We swept our sidewalks, planted flowers in our yards and watched everyone else’s children as if they were our own. Landmarking is an affirmation of that struggle, a reward for holding on tight to something of great value, and that is this remarkable community of brick and mortar, tradition and pride, flesh and bone. It will protect what has been preserved for the last 150 years so that it can be handed down for those who will come after us, without the dangers of overdevelopment or arbitrary tear-downs and alterations.”

Those quoted against it say it will usher in gentrification and force renters and owners to move because they won’t be able to afford to maintain their buildings. Yet Crown Heights and other parts of Bed Stuy were landmarked by enthusiastic black homeowners well before gentrification, which has now arrived in the not landmarked Bedford area with a vengeance. Now that gentrification is here, we would argue that landmarking is needed even more urgently. Developers — who have been fighting landmarking as far back as the late 1950s in Brooklyn Heights — are putting up inappropriate buildings and Fedders specials in formerly pristine blocks.

In fact, this section is arguably the most architecturally significant in Bed Stuy. (Above, a few houses on Halsey Street close to the famed Alhambra Apartments.) If Stuyvevsant Heights and Park Slope deserve landmarking, then this area is even more worthy, in our opinion. In fact, we can’t understand why it wasn’t landmarked first.

What’s your opinion?

Argument Over a Brownstone Neighborhood [NY Times]

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