Précis of the New York 2006 Meeting:
Planning for the New York conference is moving right along,
with the Planning Committee working hard to put in a place the
program that will bring the VAF to important cultural landscapes
of this wonderful city. Right up front, we would like to acknowledge
the J. M. Kaplan Fund, whose support has been a great help in
this planning stage.
The meeting will open on Wednesday June
14th, with a keynote address and reception in the early
evening at the City College of New York. The talk, New
York: Building the Vernacular City, will be given by Andrew
S. Dolkart, who is on our committee and holds the James Marston
Fitch Associate Professorship in Historic Preservation at the
Columbia University School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
Several churches and row houses in the City College neighborhood
(Hamilton Heights) will be open for visiting in the late afternoon..
On Thursday June 15th, the Tenement
Museum on the Lower East Side will be open for guided tours between
8:30am and 12:30pm. Were planning for 300 people to tour
the museum in small groups and arranging for special programs
to be held in the downstairs rooms of the museum. The Eldridge
Street Synagogue, the Museum of Chinese in the Americas, and
other major sites on the Lower East side will be open for self-guided
visits during the morning and the afternoon.
Other options for Thursday afternoon
include a tour of commercial architecture in Lower Manhattan,
which will include an early example of a counting house, nineteenth-century
loft buildings, other examples of commercial architecture, and
skyscrapers. We hope that some sites will be open for visits.
Mary Beth Betts and Jeff Cohen will guide two groups of 20-25
people each; self-guided tours will also be possible. A self-guided
tour of reform housing on the Lower East Side is also being planned.
For Thursday evening, were
adding a new event to the usual VAF schedule: a forum co-sponsored
by The Gotham Center for New York City History (and to be held
at the CUNY Graduate Center Auditorium). The topic is Place
Matters: The Lower East Side, with Marci Reaven, chair.
Speakers include Suzanne Wasserman, historian and Associate Director
of the Gotham Center, Orlando Plaza, community activist and life-long
resident of the Lower East Side, and others. This event will
be open to the public.
On Friday, June 16th, VAFers
will have the option of choosing a full-day tour in Harlem or
Queens. Folks who want to visit Harlem will take the subway from
the conference hotel or dorms and proceed to explore on foot
the diverse history of development and population change in this
community from the 1880s when large-scale speculative development
began, through the early twenty-first century. The tour will
explore architecture and cultural issues row houses, tenements,
apartment buildings, churches; the shift of population from white
Protestant; to white immigrant; to African American and Caribbean;
to the loss of the black middle class and more recent changes
as the neighborhood attracts affluent white and black residents.
Self-guided and guided tours will be available, with the guided
tours accommodating 100 people. In the morning, half the group
will visit the area around 125th Street; half will visit the
area around 135th; and switch in the afternoon. Both groups will
visit the intersection of 125th Street and 7th Avenue, where
there are sites of major importance in Harlems history.
The full group will meet for lunch at a local hall or church
with a local business or church group preparing food. A note
to VAFers concerned about descending en masse on this community:
cultural tourism is big business in Harlem these days; double-decker
tour buses are frequently seen on Harlem streets, as are groups
of European tourists, walking on foot.
The Queens tour will explore this physically large and culturally
diverse borough with the help of local community groups. Cutting
through the borough is the No. 7 subway line--known as the International
Express for its intersection through one new immigrant community
after another. We'll team up with local folklorists, who got
the train line listed as a National Millennium Trail in 2000,
and explore places along its route like the Hindu Temple, assembled
in Flushing from stone carved and shipped from India. The tour
will start at Sunnyside, where we will visit Sunnyside Gardens,
Phipps Houses, Matthews Model flats, and other examples of reform
housing from the 1920s. Well eat lunch at the Hindu Temple
in Flushing; VAFers will then visit Jackson Heights, developed
by the Queensboro Corporation in the 1920s and now a center for
the South Asian community in the metropolitan area, and then
move on to the Astoria Pool (an exemplary WPA project by Robert
Moses). Were hoping that preservationists, folklorists,
and local residents will be on hand in each community for discussion;
self-guided tours will also be possible. Were planning
to use buses to tour Queens, although it will be possible to
take the subway to visit some of the sites.
In the late afternoon on Friday,
everyone will meet at the Bohemian Hall in Astoria for a drink.
Established in the early-twentieth century by Czech immigrants,
the Bohemian Hall is one of the few beer gardens still open for
business in the city. Were planning on bringing folks on
the Harlem tour to the Bohemian Hall.
Other important matters: The conference hotel will be the
Holiday Inn Downtown, 138 Lafayette Street (a short walk to the
Tenement Museum); the conference dorms will be at St. Johns
University (near the World Trade Center site). The
Saturday paper sessions will take place at Avery Hall,
hosted by the Columbia University School of Architecture, Planning
and Preservation. Plans are underway for the Saturday evening
banquet, reception, dinner, awards, and dance to be held in a
banqueting hall in Chinatown (not too far from the Holiday Inn).
With best regards and looking forward to seeing you in New
York in June,
Marta Gutman for the New York 2006 Planning Committee
(Mary Beth Betts, Jeff Cohen, Cynthia Danza, Andrew Dolkart,
Marta Gutman, Marci Reaven, and Zach Rice)
for download (.pdf)
Registration forms (.pdf)
Schedule for Saturday