On This Day in History: December 2 Historic District Victory For Brooklyn Heights

On Dec. 2, 1965, The New York Times published a story with the headline “Brooklyn Heights Now a Landmark.”

“The city’s Landmark Preservation Commission designated Brooklyn Heights yesterday as the city’s first ‘historic district,’” the article reported, adding, “the 50 blocks in the Brooklyn Heights section contain about 1,000 residential structures, many dating to the 19th century.”

The neighborhood’s pioneering designation came after years of advocacy by neighborhood resident Otis Pearsall and the Brooklyn Heights Association.

In its designation report, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) noted, “Support from the Brooklyn Heights community for designation has been remarkably strong.”

Mr. Pearsall was quoted in the designation report, explaining the importance of preserving an entire district as opposed to individual buildings: “Scattered landmarks of great historical or architectural value must certainly be preserved. But individual monuments cannot convey the character of the City as it was. This can only be achieved through dense groupings of homogeneous structures which retain in high degree the integrity of their original architecture.”

The designation of historic districts has since become a popular preservation tool for the LPC. Today there are 102 historic districts in New York City, 26 of them being in Brooklyn.

—P. Neidl

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