Marx Brothers Place is an historic little block in the heart of Carnegie Hill. Informed by its cultural pedigree, which boasts the biographies of both the Marx Brothers & the Loewe brothers; the antiquity of its houses, which include brownstones older than any of the brownstones already in the Carnegie Hill Historic District and its unique stepped-down roofscape, Marx Brothers Place remains a cherished gem in NYC's collection of historic neighborhoods.
It also happens to be the sort of block where folks know the names of their neighbors' dogs and where neighborhood children pitch in to help plant daffodil and tulip bulbs in the tree pits each fall. In other words, Marx Brothers Place is a real NYC neighborhood.
And despite the fact that for decades Marx Brothers Place has been a quiet destination mapped for travelers longing to see the childhood home of the most beloved comic family in film history, it's steep hill and far-north geography (most people get nose bleeds above 86th Street) had insulated the block from the hungry glare of big-time developers.
But when money got really, really cheap, and the NYC Department of Buildings got really, really corrupt, the residents of Marx Brothers Place got a crash course in the lethal difference between being historic and being designated historic in NYC. For, as we all know by now, being historic in NYC provides absolutely no legal protection from an oncoming bulldozer. History gets a reprieve from that particular weapon of mass demolition only if the history has already been tagged and duly registered with the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Less than 30 feet outside the boundary line of the Carnegie Hill Historic District (the middle of Lexington Avenue at 93rd Street), Marx Brothers Place is a sitting duck for eager developers with visions of demolition dancing through their heads.
And in these difficult economic times, which haven't slowed down the speculators on East 93rd Street one bit, this persistent threat to the character of our block evokes the more ubiquitous dread that threatens to rob our city of one of its most vital assets: NYC's historic neighborhoods. For, it's blocks like Marx Brothers Place (is there another block so unique?) that help to inform the character of these great old neighborhoods.
In turn, NYC's historic neighborhoods serve as anchors, even magnets, for our community, helping the city to weather good times and bad. But without the people that populate these historic neighborhoods, many of whom will leave if NYC continues to fail to protect the historic character that attracted them in the first place, the probability of NYC surviving the current economic downturn becomes severely challenged.
Faced with the harsh practical reality of the long-term irreparable harm hovering over this beloved NYC block, one might think Community Board 8 and the Bloomberg Administration would be busy at work doing all they can to help celebrate and protect Marx Brothers Place: A truly unique and historic neighborhood.
Instead, CB8 and the Mayor's office have stood by passively nodding as developers dreams of out-of-scale and over-priced condominiums are waved through the same red tape that seems to slow down everybody else in this town - except builders with a backhoe.
If the Bloomberg Administration doesn't move quickly to protect Marx Brothers Place and the other vulnerable historic neighborhoods uptown, not only will our city suffer dearly from the loss of these great historic treasures, but it will begin to resemble the Wild West with urban tumble weed replacing residents who had once converged for a boom that has now gone bust.
Uptown is for people. It's a real neighborhood, not just a spot on a developer's map existing for the pleasure and short-term profit of speculators cranked up on foreign money and the ease with which they have been able to compromise the NYC Department of Buildings.
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Thanks for your continued interest in historic Marx Brothers Place !
For more information about the 93rd Street Beautification Association or Marx Brothers Place, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212.969.8138 or visit our blogs at: Save Marx Brothers Place or The Marx Brothers Place Report.
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