New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is the New York City agency charged with administering the city's Landmarks Preservation Law. The Commission was created in April 1965 by Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr. following the destruction of Pennsylvania Station the previous year to make way for the construction of the current Madison Square Garden. The Commission is responsible for protecting New York City's architecturally and culturally significant buildings and sites by granting them landmark or historic district status, regulating them once they're designated, it is the largest municipal preservation agency in the nation. The Landmarks Preservation Commission consists of 11 commissioners, is required by law to include a minimum of three architects, a historian, a city planner or landscape architect, a realtor and at least one resident of each of the five New York City boroughs. According to the Landmarks Preservation Law, a building must be at least thirty years old before the Commission can declare it a landmark.

City law allows for the Commission's decision to be overturned if an appeal is filed within 90 days. The goal of New York City's landmarks law is to preserve the aesthetically and important buildings and other objects that make up the New York City vista; the Landmarks Preservation Commission is responsible for deciding which properties should be subject to landmark status and enacting regulations to protect the aesthetic and historic nature of these properties. These regulations are designed to allow property owners to continue to use and maintain their properties, while preserving the important architectural characteristics of the properties; the commission preserves not only architecturally significant buildings, but the overall historical sense of place of neighborhoods that are designated as historic districts. The commission is responsible for overseeing a range of designated landmarks in all five boroughs ranging from the Fonthill Castle in the North Bronx, built in 1852 for the actor Edwin Forrest, to the 1670s Conference House in Staten Island, where Benjamin Franklin and John Adams attended a conference aimed at ending the Revolutionary War.

The Commission helps preserve the City's landmark properties by regulating changes to their significant features. The role of the Commission has evolved over time with the changing real estate market in New York City; as of October 1, 2019, there are more than 37,000 landmark properties in New York City, most of which are located in 149 historic districts in all five boroughs. The total number of protected sites includes 1,430 individual landmarks, 209 interior landmarks and 11 scenic landmarks; some of these are National Historic Landmark sites, many are on the National Registered Historic Places. Individual landmark: The exteriors of objects or structures. Individual landmarks must be at least 30 years old and contain "a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the City, state, or nation". Interior landmark: The interiors of structures, which fit the individual landmark criteria and are "customarily open or accessible to the public".

Scenic landmark: Sites owned by the city, which fit the individual landmark criteria and are "parks or other landscape features". Historic districts: Regions with buildings that fit the individual landmark criteria and contain "architectural and historical significance". Landmark districts must be geographically cohesive with a "coherent streetscape" and a "sense of place"; the Commission was created in 1965 through groundbreaking legislation signed by Mayor Robert F. Wagner in response to the mounting losses of significant buildings in New York City, most infamously Pennsylvania Station; the Landmarks Preservation Commission's first public hearing occurred in September, 1965 over the future of the Astor Library on Lafayette Street in Manhattan. The building was designated a New York City Landmark. Subsequently, the building was adaptively reused as The Public Theater. Twenty-five years the Commission was cited by David Dinkins as having preserved New York City's municipal identity and enhanced the market perception of a number of neighborhoods.

This success is believed to be due, in part, to the general acceptance of the commission by the city's developers. The Commission was headquartered in the Mutual Reserve Building from 1967 to 1980, the Old New York Evening Post Building from 1980 to 1987. In 1989, when the Commission and its process was under review following a panel created by Mayor Koch in 1985, a decision was made to change the process by which buildings are declared to be landmarks due to some perceived issues with the manner by which the Commission operates as well as the realization that the destruction feared when the Commission was formed was no longer imminent. In its first 25 years of existence, the Commission designated 856 buildings, 79 interiors and 9 parks or other outdoor places as landmarks, while declaring 52 neighborhoods with more than 15,000 buildings as historic districts. One of the most prominent decisions in which the Commission was involved was the preservation of the Grand Central Terminal with the assistance of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

In 1978, the United States Supreme Court upheld the law in Penn Central Transportation Co. et al. v. New York City, et al. stopping the Penn Central Railroad from altering the structure and placing a large office tower above it. This success is cited as significant due to the Commission's origins following the destruction of Pennsylvania Station, referred to by some as architectural vandalism. In 1989, the Commission designate


Siroe, re di Persia, is an opera seria in three acts by George Frideric Handel. It was his 12th opera for the Royal Academy of Music and was written for the sopranos Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni; the opera uses an Italian-language libretto after Metastasio's Siroe. Like many of Metastasio's libretti, it was set by Handel's contemporaries, e.g. by Leonardo Vinci, Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Adolph Hasse. Pasquale Errichelli's setting of the libretto premiered in the year of Handel's death; the story of the opera is a fictionalisation of some events in the life of Kavad II, King of the Sasanian Empire in 628 AD. The opera was first given under the direction of the composer at the King's Theatre in London on 17 February 1728 and it was seen in Braunschweig, Germany, it was rediscovered and performed in Gera, Germany, in December 1925. As with all Baroque opera seria, Siroe went unperformed for many years, but with the revival of interest in Baroque music and informed musical performance since the 1960s, like all Handel operas, receives performances at festivals and opera houses today.

Among other performances, Siroe received staged productions at the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice in association with La Fenice opera house in 2001 and at the Göttingen International Handel Festival in 2013. Scene: Persia, about 628 AD. Before the action begins, King Cosroe has had father of Emira, assassinated. Emira has disguised herself as a man, "Idaspe", has come to King Cosroe's court, thirsting for revenge for her father's death. There she has fallen in love with the heir to the throne, he, aware of her true identity, with her also. Cosroe's younger son Prince Medarse wants to get rid of both his father and his older brother so that he can have the throne himself. Laodice, the king's mistress, has fallen in love with crown prince Siroe. Siroe, the upright crown prince of Persia, is aware of the machinations surrounding him and rejects both Emira's plots for revenge for her father's death and Laodice's desire for his love. Siroe discovers that the two ladies and his brother Medarse are conspiring to kill Cosroe and warns the King in an anonymous letter that there are plots against his life, without however naming the conspirators.

Siroe is identified as the author of the letter, but still refuses to name the conspirators. The jealous Laodice accuses Siroe of making unwanted sexual advances to her and the King announces that the succession to the throne will pass over Siroe and go to the younger Medarse instead, which makes both ladies feel guilty although Medarse rejoices. Siroe bewails his fate. Accused of treachery by his father badgered by the unwanted attentions of Laodice and continually pressed to revenge her father's death by his sweetheart Emira, Siroe draws his sword to commit suicide in front of the disguised Emira, but the King entering at this moment believes Siroe is attempting to murder "Idaspe" and has Siroe arrested. Emira is attempting to assassinate the King. Emira talks her way out of the King's suspicions; the King orders Siroe to reveal the names of the conspirators who are plotting against him or be put to death and Siroe chooses to die rather than reveal their names. Laodice implores "Idaspe"; the people are in revolt at the news of the impending execution of the popular crown prince Siroe.

Laodice confesses to the King. She is joined by Emira in begging the King to spare Siroe's life and the King's memories of his son's childhood soften his attitude toward Siroe; the commander of the army, brings the false news that Siroe has been put to death. Emira, beside herself with grief and anger, reveals her true identity to the King and that she, not Siroe, was plotting the King's assassination. Arasse informs Emira that Siroe is still living and Emira forestalls an attempt by Medarse to kill his father the King and claim the throne for himself. Rebels are threatening the King when Siroe enters and drives them away. Siroe implores Emira to drop her hatred. Siroe and Emira will marry, the King abdicates and Siroe will now be crowned King of Persia. All celebrate the fortunate outcome of events; the German-born Handel, after spending some of his early career composing operas and other pieces in Italy, settled in London, where in 1711 he had brought Italian opera for the first time with his opera Rinaldo.

A tremendous success, Rinaldo created a craze in London for Italian opera seria, a form focused overwhelmingly on solo arias for the star virtuoso singers. In 1719, Handel was appointed music director of an organisation called the Royal Academy of Music, a company under royal charter to produce Italian operas in London. Handel was not only to compose operas for the company but hire the star singers, supervise the orchestra and musicians, adapt operas from Italy for London performance. Handel had composed numerous Italian operas with varying degrees of success; the castrato Senesino and the soprano Francesca Cuzzoni had appeared in a succession of Handel operas for the Academy most of, successful with audiences, in 1726 the directors of the Academy brought over another internationally renowned singer, Faustina Bordoni, to add to the company's attractions. The two prima donnas had appeared in continental European countries in operas together without incid

Blyth's kingfisher

Blyth's kingfisher is the largest kingfisher in the genus Alcedo. Named for Edward Blyth, the species has been known as Alcedo grandis and as the great blue kingfisher. Between 22 and 23 centimetres long, the kingfisher has deep rufous underparts with a blackish blue breast patch, brilliant cobalt blue or azure upperparts, tinged with purple; the wings are a dark blackish green, with blue tips to some of the feathers. The bill of the male is black, while the female has a dark red lower mandible; the species is distinguished from the similar blue-eared kingfisher and common kingfisher by its greater size, heavy black bill, dark lores. The species breeds between the months of June, it builds nests at the end of tunnels dug in the banks of ravines. Four to six eggs are laid, with both sexes incubating. A shy bird, it frequents small waterways, feeding on fish and insects caught by diving from a shrub close to the water, it is found along streams in evergreen forest and adjacent open country between 200 and 1,200 metres between 400 and 1,000 metres.

The species ranges from Nepal through India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Within its preferred habitat the density of the species is low, the population, though not surveyed, is believed to be small, declining further; the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies it as "near threatened". Blyth's kingfisher was described by the English zoologist Edward Blyth in 1845 and given the binomial name Alcedo grandis; this name was preoccupied as it had been introduced for another species by the German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin in his Systema naturae of 1788. In 1917, the German naturalist Alfred Laubmann proposed the binomial name Alcedo hercules to replace the preoccupied name chosen by Blyth; the common name commemorates Edward Blyth, the curator of the Museum of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Blyth's kingfisher is most related to the blue-eared kingfisher; the species is monotypic. It has been referred to as the great blue kingfisher. Blyth's kingfisher is between 22 and 23 centimetres in length, making it the largest of the Alcedo kingfishers.

The wing of the male is between 9.6 and 10.2 centimetres long, that of the female between 9.5 and 10.3 centimetres. On the male, the feathering on the head is black, with shiny tips of bright blue, it has a neck patch, whitish or buff in colour, as is the chin. The breast and belly are rufous, except for a dark blackish-blue patch on the breast; the legs and feet of the bird are red. The bill is black in the male, while the female has a red base to the mandible; the iris of the bird is reddish brown. The lores of the bird are black, have a buff coloured streak above them; the back of the bird from mantle to the tail coverts is a bright cobalt blue or azure, with a tinge of purple towards the rump and the tail coverts. When the bird is at rest, the upper parts may appear brownish black; the tail itself is a darker ultramarine blue. The wings and the scapular feathers are a dark greenish black; the feathers of the upperwing coverts have cobalt-blue tips, while the underwing coverts are dark rufous-red.

The lesser and median coverts have prominent speckles of cobalt. Any distinctive features in the plumage of the juvenile are not known; the species is morphologically similar to the blue-eared kingfisher, but in comparison is larger. Its bill is heavier and longer than that of the blue-eared kingfisher, is black, its crown and wings are less brilliant as those of the smaller bird, it may be distinguished by the speckles of light blue on its crown and wing coverts. The dark ear coverts set it apart from the common kingfisher, it is similar to the female blue-banded kingfisher, but the two species do not overlap in their range. The call of the species is described as a loud "pseet", less shrill but louder and more hoarse than that of the common kingfisher, similar but louder to that of the blue-eared kingfisher. One of the calls made by the slaty-backed forktail is sometimes mistaken for the call of Blyth's kingfisher; the breeding period of Blyth's kingfisher is chiefly between April and May, extending to March and June.

The nests are built at the end of a tunnel in a muddy bank, next to either a stream or a ravine in the forest. The tunnel extends straight rises, before descending to the chamber in which the nest is; this chamber is 10 and 13 centimetres high. The width of the tunnel is 8 centimetres: the length varies with the soil, ranging from 45 to 60 centimetres in hard soil to 2 metres in sandy soil. Between four and six eggs are laid, incubated by both parents; the parents sit tight. The periods of incubation and fledging are not known; the species feeds on fish and insects it catches by diving in water bodies. Unlike other Alcedo kingfishers, Blyth's kingfisher dives from a shrub close above the water, rather than from an exposed vantage point; the species is presumed not to migrate. It is described as a shy bird. Blyth's kingfisher frequents small rivers and waterways in evergreen forest, hilly regions, or deep ravines, it is sometimes found near streams near well-wooded farmland. Its elevational range is chiefly between 400 and 1,000 metres above sea level, extending to a min