May 15, 2011 By Christian Murray
Local landmarking supporters and officials met in the Gardens district on Saturday to celebrate the completion and unveiling of the historical street signs.
The signs, which the Department of Transportation began posting April 30, specify both the number and the historic name, such as “Heiser,” commonly known as 49th Street, and “Sunnyside Gardens Historic District.” Some dual-name signs were already posted in the eighties due to an earlier push by local residents, but now the entire district is marked, reflecting historic designation.
A small crowd of those who worked for landmarking, passersby and local business owners watched and applauded the unveiling at the corner of 46th Street and Skillman Ave. A few stalwarts sold Sunnyside Gardens tee shirts at a nearby table.
“I am pleased to be able to get this accomplished with the DOT and thank all of you who got us here”, said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who with 100-year-old Ethel Plimack, pulled the covering off of the new historic street signs at 46th-Bliss Street and Skillman Avenue. Plimack, an advocate for landmarking, has lived on 46th street for 70 years.
The landmarking legwork took years of work by interested residents, collecting and compiling a “case” for historic preservation in a decision which ultimately was made unanimously by 11 commissioners of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2007. LPC, as it is generally called, was formed in 1965 by Mayor Robert Wagner after the public outcry after the replacement of Pennsylvania Station with Madison Square Garden.
Many local homeowners opposed the historic status, arguing that it would restrict their ability to make physical changes to their homes. The landmarked district covers Phipps apartment buildings, Sunnyside Gardens Park, 12 courtyards and 16 blocks of Sunnyside and Woodside north of Queens Boulevard.
Ethel Plimack was invited to do dual unveiling honors by Van Bramer. She lives down the block, having moved to her Gardens home in 1941 with her husband and first child, Sylvia. Her children Henry and Janet were born here, in 1943 and 1944, respectively. Son Henry visited Saturday, taking photographs. “The London Plane trees were no higher than the parking signs when I was growing up.” said Henry, “They used to get in the way when we played stickball on the street.”
How Great! We live in such a special place and I feel very fortunate and thankful to all of the hardworking neighbors who believed so strongly in landmarking. Thank you Jimmy and everyone else for your efforts in getting the signs. this neighborhood just gets better and better. In all the years that I have lived here, I have never felt more blessed.
I like it!
Very cool. It’s nice for neighborhood newcomers to get this tiny taste of history.
We are HOMEOWNERS, not MUSEUM CURATORS.