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Park Avenue Historic District Aims to Keep Iconic Look in Line

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Park Avenue is one of the most recognizable streets not only in the Big Apple but around the world, and a group of community activists is working to make sure it stays that way all along the Upper East Side. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

The Upper East Side along Park Avenue has a certain look that's pretty much the same from top to bottom. While much of that stretch is included in various designated historic districts to preserve the unique character, there's long been a gap right in the middle but that is in the process of changing.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a plan to create a new Park Avenue Historic District from 79th Street to 91st.

That designation would mean new oversight for any potential changes to the historic apartments, some dating back to the 1880's and many from the early 1900's.

"The ambiance and the beauty of Park Avenue, the preservation, this is something we want to hand down to younger generations," said Margot Melniker, an Upper East Side resident.

The new district still needs approval from the City Planning Commission and the City Council. If it passes, Park Avenue would be completely covered from 62nd all the way to 94th Street. Advocates say they've worked towards this since 2006.

"It means respect for the architect and the architecture. And it means maintaining a sense of place and that the avenue is intact. This is an iconic avenue, this is not like a lot of other places. This avenue is known all around the world and it's worth preserving," said Michele Birnbaum of Historic Park Avenue.

The designation would protect the exteriors of buildings from changes without a review process. That includes facades, windows and decorative markings. It could also prevent out-of-character development.

"It doesn't freeze it in time. But it just gives the Landmarks Commission an opportunity to weigh in and make sure the changes are appropriate," said City Councilman Dan Garodnick.

The City Council is expected to vote on the historic district designation sometime later this year. Councilman Garodnick is confident it will pass.

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