June 13, 2019
The most controversial landmark in NYC may now be the Strand
by Michael Barron
New York City has a new landmark—a bookstore. Break out the bubbly for The Strand, Manhattan’s legendary bookstore, just don’t expect to be cheered by the owners.
Reporting for Publisher’s Weekly, Ed Nawotka writes that despite the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voting to landmark 826 Broadway, the building that houses the Strand Bookstore, it was a decision that came “despite strong opposition from the owner of the Strand, Nancy Bass Wyden, who argued that the designation would mire the bookstore “‘in a lifetime of needless red tape.'”
Back in February, Sam Raskin of Curbed noted the arguments of both sides for the building, which was constructed in 1902 and became home to the Strand in 1927. On the designation of a landmark, Curbed quoted LPC’s Andrea Goldwyn of New York Landmarks Conservancy as saying that the “distinguished” building “well represents the history and architecture of Manhattan just south of Union Square.”
According to Raskin, Wyden’s opposition has been that “designating it as a landmark would place a burden on the store by requiring her to dedicate time and resources to navigate bureaucratic processes, thus hindering her ability to run the store and putting the employment of the more than 230 who work there in jeopardy.”
Whether this is a time for a red tape bureaucracy or the cutting of a more celebratory red tape remains to be seen.
Michael Barron is an editor at Melville House.