Theses Master's

Demolition by Neglect of New York City Individual and Historic District Landmarks

Swyers, Lisa Renz

When a building or district is designated by the Landmarks Preservation
Commission, it provides a steep measure of protection and regulation for the building, assuring the building or district will move forward in time utilizing
managed change to retain the special qualities and character that define it
as a landmark. When a New York City Landmark or District suffers from demolition by neglect, it is an affront to the entire premise of what the designation represents. Although not widespread, the rupture a demolition
by neglect building produces in a streetscape is jarring and cannot be ignored. In many instances, the harm caused by demolition by neglect extends beyond the loss of character. Physical deterioration and abandonment is often accompanied by squatting and associated problems with fire and a litany of illegal activities, imperiling not only the building in question, but the neighboring buildings as well. Yet, despite the seriousness of this condition both to urban heritage and the health, safety, and welfare of the city residents, there is an inadequacy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission or other city agencies to deal with demolition by neglect completely despite the regulatory mechanism provided by the landmark laws. My thesis will examine the conditions which precede demolition by neglect when it occurs among designated properties and within historic districts; assert that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has matured from an agency whose purpose was to identify historic resources to one which must now focus more on managing and protecting the resources it has previously singled out as illustrated through demolition by neglect; determine why the landmarks law and the Landmarks Preservation Commission has not been as effective in diminishing this problem through regulation and enforcement as one might hope; identify ways in which the efficacy of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission can be improved and identify tools that may be utilized in tandem with established
Commission avenues to produce a more dexterous approach to a complex problem.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Bentel, Paul L.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 11, 2013