Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New York, New York

I really didn't have too many excuses to not visit The Landmarks of New York. My best excuse was trumped when these landmarks came to Chennai; and they came so close to where I work, that I could not miss them even if I wanted to. There were about 80 of these landmarks, all in black and white, framed, with descriptions on the cultural, historic or architectural significance of these. All of them were photos taken by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, who was at one time chairperson of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Foundation.

The photographs themselves were excellent, but what was more impressive was the idea of a 'Landmarks Law'. In essence, a building that's over 30 years qualifies to be a landmark, if it can be demonstrated that it has a lasting cultural, aesthetic or historic value, is declared a landmark and protected from demolition. All the while, the owners of such buildings can continue to use and maintain their properties. Today the New York City Landmarks Law covers not only buildings, but also signs, neighbourhoods and public use land.

Maybe the existence of such legislation could have deterred the state Public Works Department from demolishing the 250 year old Government House last month. The demolition went ahead with only a few protests, mainly because the building was set back inside the Omandur estate, shielded from public view. There are many more such vulnerable structures in Chennai, that could well do with the protection provided by a 'Landmarks Law'!

4 comments:

David -- www.CostaRicaDailyPhoto.com said...

Thank you very much for the comment that you left on the Daily Photo site that I started for Costa Rica about a month ago.

My wife and I travelled to India about a year and a half ago, but did not visit Chennai. We took an organized tour and had time only to go to the places on the tour group itinerary, such as Dehli, Varanasi, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Cochin, and Mumbai. It is a spectacular country and we hope to return. Until then, your and several other daily photo sites will have to suffice.

babooshka said...

This was a really interesring post. not only the images, but the text. Always good to learn something each day.

magiceye said...

wonder if any laws would help..
in mumbai the ASI in its endeveaour to preserve the forts are actually concretising the crumbling walls!

Sometimes I don't, sometimes I do said...

>> David>> Thank you for visiting - I hope you will like this enough to return often on the Net and also to visit Chennai soon :)

>> Babooshka>> Thank you! Glad you liked it!

>> Magiceye>> I think the success of NYC's law is that it is a City specific law, implemented by the city's residents. The ASI can't even begin to prioritise between the thousands of sites under its purview!