Why is this site significant?
This block was constructed in 1689 on landfill in the East River and constituted the first time that the land mass of Manhattan Island was extended for the purpose of fostering commercial development. By 1728 the block had been almost entirely filled in with businesses, including Fraunces Tavern, constructed in 1719. Though the area languished in the early 19th century, it experienced a revival stimulated by the completion of the Erie Canal and the concomitant rise in commerce in 1825. Of the existing buildings now on the block, 11 were built between 1827 and 1833. Most of the buildings adopted the Federal or Greek Revival styles. Fraunces Tavern, at 54 Pearl Street, was restored and remodeled by William Mersereau in 1907, a moment when Colonial Revival architecture and design were very much in vogue.
What did the New York Landmarks Conservancy do?
When the owner started demolition of the block in 1974, we convinced the New York City Department of Buildings to issue a temporary stop-work order. We then were active in efforts to develop economically viable plans for the buildings and to secure designation of the block as a historic district. Mrs. Vincent Astor gave us funding to purchase the buildings, which were then leased to a private developer for conversion to residential and commercial use. We also have an easement on the row to watch over any proposed changes.