Morningside Heights Historic District Committee

Preserving, Celebrating, and Discovering the Story of our Community

Our History

The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine is one of our many esteemed institutions. Planning for the structure began in the 19th century, on the grounds of the Leake and Watts Orphan Asylum, whose 1843 building adjoins the Cathedral.

The Morningside Heights Historic District Committee was formed in the 1990s to preserve the unique character of our neighborhood by pursuing a New York City Historic District designation. Though we were successful in attaining this status for a large portion of Morningside Heights in 2017, we are now working to secure it for five additional sections. Our entire community needs appropriate protection in the era of real estate overdevelopment currently underway.

Our neighborhood’s boundaries are defined by a steep plateau bordered by two landmark 19th-century parks (Morningside and Riverside). This community is historically and architecturally notable and diverse. It hosts New York’s highest density of early-20th-century middle-class apartment buildings constructed in one era. It also contains the greatest concentration of historic institutions of any neighborhood in the United States.

In recent years, our community has been subject to out-of-scale development which has undermined its distinct sense of place. Historic District designation will ensure that both new construction and the redevelopment of existing buildings will be undertaken in a manner which respects our neighborhood’s context and character. Our buildings, green spaces, and streetscapes contribute to a sense of place, as well as expectations about local quality of life and the proportions of residential and commercial construction.

MHHDC’s mission is to protect our community’s social and architectural history. To achieve this, we are seeking Historic District designation for the entire neighborhood by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

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