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The Dyckman House

Historic Preservation

Sondra E. Ganelli
(Ganelli@murray.fordham.edu


Clearly, not everyone values their heritage.
Graffiti at Dyckman House

Poet, James Merrill, put it best when he wrote:
Out for a walk, after a week in bed,
I find them tearing up part of my block
And, chilled through, dazed and lonely , join the dozen
In meek attitudes, watching a huge crane
Fumble luxuriously in the filth of years.
Her Jaws dribble rubble...
As usual in New York, everything is torn down
Before you had a time to care for it.
Head bowed, at the shrine of noise, let me try to recall
What building stood here... 
- James Merrill, 1962

This poem is indicative of the need to preserve our historical landmarks. It seems that everyone is all too eager to be rid of our past, our history. Our historical monuments have meaning, have reason for existing. They contain histories within that can never be brought back. They tell of how we got here, where we come from, and how we've evolved. However, there are some who have, are, and always will be struggling to preserve our historical landmarks.

The emergence of the historic preservation movement as a powerful force in the evolution of new York's architecture and urbanism began not with an act of conservation but with an act of destruction: the demolition in 1963 of McKim, Mead and White's Pennsylvania Station. The loss of the station was deeply shocking to New Yorkers and provoked the establishment of a mechanism for the legal protection of the city's architectural heritage.

If we don't recognize the importance of preserving our history we will continue to advance through life without appreciating our accomplishments by being able to view them. 

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