Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dear Mr. Tierney - By Bill Marx

The Honorable Robert B. Tierney
Chair, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commision
One Centre Street, Ninth Floor North
New York, NY 10007

RE: Request For Evaluation To Extend Carnegie Hill Historic District
One Block East On 93rd Street

Dear Chairperson Tierney,

My name is Bill Marx, and my father is Harpo Marx. I am writing in support of the Request for Evaluation submitted by the 93rd Street Beautification Association asking that the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission extend the Carnegie Hill Historic District (CHHD) one block east so as to include the historic collection of 19th century houses on 93rd Street between Lexington and Third Avenues which includes the world-famous childhood home of the Marx Brothers.

As you well know, throughout their early formulative years, The Marx Brothers lived on East 93rd Street during the early part of the last century. However, along with their mother, Minnie, and father Sam, they lived there in their youth as Leonard, Adolph, Julius, Milton and Herbert. (Their theatrical names, Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo and Zeppo came later.)

The Brothers grew up on the many streets of the east side of Manhattan, even occasionally going to school from time to time at PS 86. Some fifty years later, I made my way through the streets of the west side, while going to school at Juilliard when it was on 123rd and Claremont, across from Columbia U. At that time as well as many visits to the city since, I have learned the visceral feel one only gets from the tastes, smells and pace of, in my humble estimation, the most fabulous city in the world. When visiting it with Dad, he would often refer to the fact that the feeling was the same for him then as it was way back when. Somehow, and most fortunately, the city remains as its own continuing extension of its unique history.

Of course, this ongoing process must be upheld and advanced by people who deeply understand and cherish the importance and value of its heritage.

I certainly do, in recognizing my great fortune to be luckily, even if ever so slightly linked with such an internationally famous team of remarkably gifted relatives as the Marx Brothers. Heritage can involve itself in so many ways, shapes and forms of life.

By comparison to most other countries, America’s history is that of a very young nation. For our own as well as future generations, we must continue to forge varied ways in developing and nurturing that deep sense of the past through an appreciation of the roots and accomplishments of those who have contributed to America’s small towns and big cities.

I live in Rancho Mirage, California, where Dad lived many years until his passing. Recently, the home he built in the 1950’s that he called El Rancho Harpo is now honored by the city as a permanent Historical Site.

I know the Brothers would be thrilled to find that they are still remembered with great reverence in the twenty-first century by old and new fans alike, and I am sure they would be most honored to have what they called their early ‘home, sweet home’ remain recognized as a permanent part of your city’s vast, special ongoing history.


Bill Marx

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