New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Jack Taylor Papers
1868-2018 (bulk, 1980s-2010s)
 MS 3150

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Barbara Gombach, Larry Weimer, and Joseph Ditta

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on November 30, 2020
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Taylor, Jack, 1925-2019
Title: Jack Taylor papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1868-2018 (bulk, 1980s-2010s)
Abstract: The collection includes the papers of Jack Taylor (1925-2019), with a focus on his activism in historic preservation efforts in New York City from the 1980s through the 2010s. The collection holds correspondence and other rich documentation related to the years-long efforts that culminated in landmark designations for the Ladies' Mile Historic District (1989), the East 17th Street/Irving Place Historic District (1998), and Tammany Hall (2013), as well as many other initiatives, such as the placement of Ivan Mestrovic's statue of Antonin Dvořák in Stuyvesant Square. The Drive to Protect the Ladies' Mile, Union Square Park Community Coalition, Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association, Gramercy Neighborhood Associates, and the Historic Districts Council are among the many local preservation organizations represented with records in the collection.
Quantity: 20 Linear feet in 20 record cartons and 3 oversize folders
Language: The documents in the collection are in English.
Call Phrase: MS 3150

Return to Top »


Biographical / Historical

Jack Taylor (1925-2019) was a leader of historic preservation initiatives in New York City, particularly in Manhattan beginning in the 1980s, which is the focus of this collection. He was born in Greenwich Village and lived much of his life in lower Manhattan. During World War II, Taylor was stationed in England, and served in the Army Air Forces in occupied Germany. After the war, Taylor attended Georgetown University and then began a career as a journalist, working for The Washington Post and later as an editor at Family Circle Magazine.

After retiring from Family Circle in the early 1980s, Taylor became deeply immersed in historic preservation in New York City. He held various official positions, including Chairman of the Union Square Community Coalition, President of the Drive to Protect the Ladies' Mile, Board Member of the Historic Districts Council, and a Public Member of Community Boards 5 and 6. Beyond these, Taylor was a member of a constellation of neighborhood and street associations engaged with quality of life issues and with the ongoing tension in the urban environment between the competing agendas and priorities of residents, developers, commerce, and other interests.

As with preservation efforts generally in New York, Taylor and his colleagues had their share of failures, including the loss of the Luchows restaurant building on 14th Street and the home of composer Antonin Dvořák (327 East 17th Street), but also significant successes. Among those successes was the preservation in 1989 of the Ladies' District, so-called because of its late 19th century reputation as a commercial shopping area; the designation of the East 17th Street/Irving Place Historic District in 1998; and Tammany Hall in 2013.

(See New York Preservation Archive Project's website for more biographical information about Taylor, including oral histories: https://www.nypap.org/preservation-history/jack-taylor/. For more information about Taylor's papers and NYPAP's acquisition of them, see https://www.nypap.org/saving-a-preservationists-legacy-jack-taylors-papers/.)

Return to Top »


Scope and Contents

The collection includes extensive documentation concerning preservation efforts in lower Manhattan from the 1980s into the 2010s, especially in the areas of Gramercy Park, Stuyvesant Square Park, Union Square, and the Ladies' Mile Historic District, all near one another. Specific locations and buildings are typically the focus of the documentation, notably Tammany Hall, the Siegel-Cooper building, National Arts Club, the Antonin Dvořák House and the placement of Ivan Mestrovic's statue of Dvořák in Stuyvesant Square Park, and many others. Disputes over quality of life issues and the character of neighborhoods also are reflected in the documents, for example in files about sidewalk cafes, food concessions in parks, tree plantings, and the nightlife of bars and other places of social gatherings.

The files include correspondence, photographs and other pictorial works, architectural and site plans, fliers and other publicity material, public statements, presentations to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) and other decision-making and influential bodies, letters of support and opposition, clippings from newspapers and other publications, and research and research reports about particular structures or neighborhoods. Much of the activity documented in the collection was carried out under the aegis of various local organizations, such as the Union Square Park Community Coalition, The 18th Street Neighborhood Alliance (TESNA), or the East Side Zoning Alliance; the files include copies of records from these various organizations, such as by-laws, officer lists, stationery, meeting minutes, and strategies for advancing the groups' agendas. The correspondence in the collection encompasses letters to and from Taylor and other activists with city officials, journalists, community members, real estate developers, commercial interests, architects and planners, business improvement district organizations (such as Union Square Partnership), and others.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged roughly by subject matter, but there is considerable overlap of content at many points across the files.

Return to Top »


Access Points

Subject Names

  • Dvořák, Antonín, 1841-1904 -- Statues -- New York (State) -- New York.

Document Type

  • Administrative records.
  • Architectural drawings (visual works)
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Photographs.
  • Press releases.
  • Research (documents)
  • Testimonies.

Subject Organizations

  • Community Board 5 (Manhattan, New York, N.Y.)
  • Drive to Protect the Ladies' Mile District (New York, N.Y.)
  • Gramercy Neighborhood Associates
  • Historic Districts Council (New York, N.Y.)
  • Manhattan Community Planning Board No. 6
  • New York (N.Y.). Landmarks Preservation Commission
  • Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association (New York, N.Y.)
  • Tammany Hall (Manhattan, New York, N.Y. : Seventeenth Street)
  • Union Square Community Coalition (New York, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Citizens' associations -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Historic buildings -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Historic districts -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Historic preservation -- New York (State) -- New York.

Subject Places

  • East 17th Street/Irving Place Historic District (New York, N.Y.)
  • Ladies' Mile Historic District (New York, N.Y.)
  • Stuyvesant Square Historic District (New York, N.Y.)
  • Union Square (New York, N.Y.)

Return to Top »


Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Use Restrictions

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to 20 exposures of stable, unbound material per day. Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, rightsandrepro@nyhistory.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.

Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions

Preferred Citation

The collection should be cited as: Jack Taylor Papers, MS 3150, New-York Historical Society.

Related Materials

N-YHS holds several collections related to historic preservation efforts in New York City. Most relevant to this collection are the Drive to Protect the Ladies' Mile Historic District Papers.

A search in Bobcat for "historic preservation," "historic districts," or "historic buildings" will identify other resources, including the papers of preservationists Oliver Allen, Carole De Saram, Friends of Hopper Gibbons Underground Railroad Site and Lamartine Place Historic District, Margot Gayle, Joyce Matz, and others.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The bulk of these papers was received by N-YHS in 2020 as a gift of the New York Preservation Archive Project (NYPAP), which had received them as a bequest in 2019 from Jack Taylor. These were combined at N-YHS with a 2018 gift from NYPAP of Taylor's papers concerning the preservation of Tammany Hall (now in box 19).

Processing Information

In 2019, N-YHS staff conducted a high level survey of the Taylor papers with New York Preservation Archive Project (NYPAP) staff at NYPAP's storage facility. Based on that survey, N-YHS provided guidance to NYPAP as to how the materials could be trimmed and shaped for accessioning by N-YHS. In the following months, NYPAP, particularly through the work of Jeffe Fellow Barbara Gombach, completed that work by eliminating excessive photocopies, separating publications not needed by N-YHS, organizing the material topically, labeling, preparing box/folder lists, and rehousing.

The organized collection was delivered to N-YHS in November 2020, where Larry Weimer took a few additional, minor preservation steps with the material, and adapted Gombach's inventory into a standard on-line finding aid. Weimer also integrated into the collection about half a box of Taylor papers concerning Tammany Hall that had been received by N-YHS in 2018 from NYPAP and that had been previously processed and cataloged by Joseph Ditta (now in box 19).

Return to Top »


Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 1 Landmarks Preservation Commission brochures

Scope and Contents

Includes Rowhouse Manual; Preservation Manual; and several brochures on re-siding, windows, and making other changes to landmarks.

1990s-2000s
Offsite-Box: 1 Folder : 2-17 Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing material (16 folders)
1990-2001
Offsite-Box: 2 Folder : 1-14 Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing material (14 folders)
2002-2008
Offsite-Box: 3 Folder : 1-14 Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing material (14 folders)
2009-2017
Offsite-Box: 4 Folder : 1-26 Ladies' Mile Historic District (26 folders)

Scope and Contents

Among the many documents in this box are a biographical note on Taylor on The Drive to Protect the Ladies' Mile letterhead; labels from the grocer Balducci; walking tour information, including a photo of Taylor; and organizational records and stationery of the Drive. The bulk of the files in this box date from the mid-1980s, especially 1986.

1978-1994
Offsite-Box: 5 Folder : 1-20 Ladies' Mile Historic District (20 folders)

Scope and Contents

Among the documents in this box are photographs of the installation of Ladies' Mile street signs (October 11, 1989) and some issues of "The Artist's Proof," the newsletter of the New York Actors Equity Association. Specific locations represented in the files, likely among others, are the Siegel-Cooper building, the Della Robbia Bar, and 873 Broadway. The bulk of the files date from 1988-1995.

1985-1999
Offsite-Box: 6 Folder : 1-31 Ladies' Mile Historic District (31 folders)

Scope and Contents

Among the documents in this box are 7 folders of Landmarks Preservation Commission violation reports (1995-2010); these include violations related to Ladies' Mile, as well as other locations of interest to Taylor and reflected in this collection (e.g. Gramercy and Stuyvesant Square). Also found here is a die cut for the Ladies' Mile logo and files on proposals for an extension of the district and a rezoning. Specific locations represented, among others, are the residence of Bonita and Brian Copp (322 East 18th Street), 19-25 West 20th Street, 31/33 West 19th Street, 28/30 West 20th Street, and 200 Fifth Avenue. The bulk of the files date from 1996-2011, with lesser amounts to 2017.

1990-2017
Folder: OS-Small Folder : 3 Ladies' Mile Historic District. Oversize

Scope and Contents

Elevations and plans by architects Jeffrey Cole and K Square Design

2014
Offsite-Box: 7 Folder : 1-24 Union Square Park Community Coalition (24 folders)

Scope and Contents

The 1905 documents in this box are two postcards of Union Square. The bulk of the files date from the mid-late 1980s, with a few documents into the 1990s. These files include a folder of documents concerning the founding of the Union Square Park Community Coalition (1980). Specific locations and subjects, likely among others, represented in the files are the Century Building (33 East 17th Street/38-46 East 18th Street), Luchow's restaurant, Jefferson Theatre, Irving Place, a garage on Park Avenue South, sidewalk cafes, a Gandhi statue, and a request for street trees.

1905, 1980-1998
Offsite-Box: 8 Folder : 1-24 Union Square Park Community Coalition (24 folders)

Scope and Contents

The 1868 document in this box is an issue of Harper's Weekly. The bulk of the box dates from the mid-1980s to the late-1990s, with some documents to 2001. Specific locations and subjects, likely among others, represented here include the amicus brief filed in Civitas's suit over 108 East 96th Street; the National Arts Club; the Century Building (33 East 17th Street/40 East 18th Street); and by-laws and member lists of the Union Square Park Community Coalition.

1868, 1976-2001
Offsite-Box: 9 Folder : 1-18 Union Square Park Community Coalition (18 folders)

Scope and Contents

Specific locations, likely among others and some of which are in the Gramercy Park area represented in these files are 65 Irving Place, National Arts Club, the Guardian Life annex (105 East 17th Street), and Baumann Brothers store (22-26 East 14th Street).

1997-2009
Offsite-Box: 10 Folder : 1-15 Union Square Park Community Coalition (15 folders)

Scope and Contents

The box includes two folders of maps of New York City's historic districts dating from the 1960s-1980s. The bulk of the files date from the mid to late 2000s. Specific subjects, likely among others, represented in the files are the Lincoln statue in Union Square and Tammany Hall (see box 19 for the principal files on Tammany Hall preservation).

1960s-2012
Offsite-Box: 11 Folder : 1-6 Union Square Park Community Coalition (6 folders)
2010-2016
Offsite-Box: 19 Folder : 1-7 Union Square Park Community Coalition (7 folders)

Scope and Contents

Topics include Baruch College expansion and its impact on the Lexington Hotel and other sites; HELP (Housing for the Less Privileged) 13th and 14th Street proposal, and East Thirteenth Street Community Association opposition; and Union Square special zoning district proposal.

1984-2012
Offsite-Box: 19 Folder : 14-33 Union Square Park Community Coalition / Tammany Hall (20 folders)

Scope and Contents

Documentation of the drive to secure landmark designation for Tammany Hall at 100 East 17th Street, on Union Square, Manhattan. The building, designed by architects Thompson, Holmes & Converse and Charles B. Meyers and constructed in 1928–29, is the only surviving headquarters of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party machine that dominated New York City politics during the 19th and early-20th centuries. These files consist chiefly of documents from 1985 to 2013 concerning the drawn-out but ultimately successful campaign to landmark Tammany Hall. The Union Square Community Coalition (USCC) next fought to block the building's owners from constructing a glass dome atop the structure. Plans submitted to the LPC in 2014 were denied, but a scaled-back version of the dome was approved in 2015. Later items in these files—through 2017—concern this rooftop dome addition; these include copies of architectural renderings by the firm Higgins Quasebarth & Partners LLC (see oversize folder). Processed by Joseph Ditta, January 2020.

1985-2017
Folder: OS-Small Folder : 1-2 Union Square Park Community Coalition / Tammany Hall. Oversize (2 folders)

Scope and Contents

Plans for Tammany from Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, and oversize clippings and reproductions.

2014
Offsite-Box: 11 Folder : 7-9 Irving Place Community Coalition / East 17th Street Historic District (3 folders)
1997-1998
Offsite-Box: 11 Folder : 10-15 The 18th Street Neighborhood Alliance (TESNA) (6 folders)

Scope and Contents

Specific locations, likely among others, represented in these folders include the Gramercy Restaurant (184 Third Avenue), Pergy Deli, discos/night clubs (such as the Palladium), Spy Bar (37 East 18th Street, and the Madison Square Post Office (East 23rd and 24th streets).

1983-2010
Offsite-Box: 11 Folder : 16 The Residents of East 17th Street Association (TRESSA)
1986-1994
Offsite-Box: 11 Folder : 17-23 The Twelfth & Eighteenth Streets Neighborhood Alliance (7 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes, among other documents, incident reports and research information concerning Girls' Town, Sheltering Arms/Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Covenant House, Catholic Charities, Project Greenhope (Residence for Women), Heartsease Home, and Sisters of the Good Shepherd residencies.

1977-2010
Offsite-Box: 12 Folder : 1-16 Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association (16 folders)

Scope and Contents

The bulk of these files date from the 1990s to mid-2000s. Specific subjects, among others, include Ivan Mestrovic's sculpture of Antonin Dvorak, the former Stuyvesant High School, renovation of the park fence, food concessions, and organizational records of the Association.

1960-2016
Offsite-Box: 13 Folder : 1-11 Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association (11 folders)

Scope and Contents

Among the specific subjects in these files are the Anton Dvorak statue (including photographs and slides), Scheffel Hall (190 Third Avenue), and Beth Israel.

1983-2012
Offsite-Box: 17 Folder : 1-15 Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association (15 folders)

Scope and Contents

The entire box includes files on the Dvorak House and sculpture. Most of the files relate to the collaboration of the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association and the Dvorak American Heritage Association to place Ivan Mestrovic's statue of Anton Dvorak in Stuyvesant Square Park. There are also files concerning the effort to preserve the Dvorak House (327 East 17th Street) in the face of Beth Israel Medical Center's plans to convert it to an AIDS care facility.

1990-1997
Offsite-Box: 19 Folder : 8-10 Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association (3 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes one folder on the Dvorak statue and two of general information about the historic district.

1975-2014
Offsite-Box: 14 Folder : 1-23 Gramercy Neighborhood Associates (23 folders)

Scope and Contents

The bulk of these files date from the 1980s-1990s. Specific subjects and locations, among others, include Hotel Savoy, Hot Woks restaurant (sidewalk cafe), Brotherhood Synagogue, 49 Irving Place, Schafer House (80 Irving Place), 127 East 19th Street (photos of deterioration), Washington Irving High School, organizational records for the Association, documents from the Concerned Citizens Speak organization (1980s), proposed extension of the historic district (1990s), a report on graffiti (1985) by We Care About New York, Inc., and tree removals. There are several files with correspondence, drafts, and other documents related to Andrew S. Dolkart and his book "Gramercy: Its Architectural Surroundings" and related work.

1970, 1980-2013
Box: 15 Folder : 1-30 Historic Districts Council (30 folders) (Not available)

Scope and Contents

This box was loaned to the HDC by NYPAP and, as of November 2020, has not yet been delivered to N-YHS. Most of the box holds copies of the newsletter District Lines.

1985-2016
Offsite-Box: 16 Folder : 1-23 Historic Districts Council (23 folders)

Scope and Contents

Although these files do include documents concerning specific locations (e.g., standstill agreement for Tammany Hall), the bulk of the files relate to the HDC more broadly and the issues it considered. These documents include meeting agendas and minutes, publicity brochures and booklets, committee reports, financial information, Board appointments and resignations, clippings about landmarks generally, and the like. One folder includes documents from the event at which Taylor received the Landmarks Lion award from the HDC (see box 20 for the actual plaques awarded).

1985-2017
Offsite-Box: 18 Folder : 1-8 East Side Rezoning Alliance (ESRA) (8 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes meeting agendas, minutes/notes, correspondence, public statements, clippings, etc. for this coalition of neighborhood associations, mostly for 1980 and 1985-1996.

1980-1996, 2013
Offsite-Box: 18 Folder : 9-13 Manhattan Community Board 5 (5 folders)

Scope and Contents

Specific locations include 17/19 Irving Place, Flute restaurant, Ruby Foo's restaurant, and Flatiron Institute.

1984-2014
Offsite-Box: 18 Folder : 14-19 Manhattan Community Board 6 (6 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes response to the Mayor's Committee on Landmarks (Cooper Report), Push cafe, CB6 South preservation and development plan prepared by Michael Kwartler and Associates, Pete's Tavern, Proof sports bar, and sidewalk cafes.

1986-2003
Offsite-Box: 18 Folder : 20-21 Alternative City Task Force (2 folders)
1976-1987
Offsite-Box: 19 Folder : 11 Astor Place Subway Kiosk

Scope and Contents

Drawings of lamp post patterns from Robinson Iron.

1990
Offsite-Box: 19 Folder : 12 Chelsea

Scope and Contents

Holds just two photocopies: 1970 Chelsea Historic District Designation Report and the 1981 extension designation report.

1970, 1981
Offsite-Box: 19 Folder : 13 Soho-Cast Iron Historic District Designation Report

Scope and Contents

File holds only the report.

1973
Folder: OS-Small Folder : 3 Municipal Art Society. "Zoned Out" booklet. Oversize

Scope and Contents

Oversize booklet regarding reform of New York zoning law, with transmittal letter to Taylor, and statement by Joseph B. Rose.

1999-2000
Folder: OS-Small Folder : 3 Block and lot maps of the Union, Gramercy, and Stuyvesant areas. Oversize

Scope and Contents

Marked-up photocopies.

undated
Offsite-Box: 18 Folder : 22-34 Various (12 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes slender folders on a variety of topics and organizations: Civitas for the East Side (1986-87); Friends of Terra Cotta (1988-92); McSorley's Ale House (1996); use of flagpoles and yardarms (1999-2000); Stuyvesant Town (2001-07); Harvard Club (2001); St. Mark's Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church (includes photocopies of documents from 1936 and 1960); planting street trees (includes leaf samples) (1983-84); documents from a "preservation summit" (2006); Neighborhood Preservation Center (2010); and some reference materials.

circa 1980s-2010
Offsite-Box: 18 Folder : 35-39 Jack Taylor Miscellany (5 folders)

Scope and Contents

Includes slender folders of content related to Taylor. Most notable are the Lifetime Achievement certificate given Taylor by the Victorian Society (2014) and a photo of Taylor at ruins in Greece (1966).

1966-2017
Offsite-Box: 20 Object : 1 Humanitarian Award for Community Service from Samuel J. Tilden Democratic Club (trophy)
2014
Offsite-Box: 20 Object : 2-3 Historic District Council's Lion Award (2 plaques)
1992
Folder: OS-Small Folder : 3 Certificate of appreciation from Gramercy Neighborhood Associates Aesthetics Committee

Scope and Contents

Currently in conservation for unframing

1991
Offsite-Box: 20 Object : 4 New York Parks & Recreation Department certificate

Scope and Contents

Acknowledges that the Stuyvesant Park Neighborhood Association adopted a bench in Taylor's honor.

2018
Offsite-Box: 20 Object : 5 Lapel pins

Scope and Contents

Approximately 40 lapel pins. Most relate to local New York City political campaigns, but many relate to historic preservation: "Don't Kill Murray Hill," "Stop the Citibank Tower," "Don't Slay Turtle Bay," "Friends of Tudor City Historic District," "Save the Best of the West," etc.

undated
Offsite-Box: 20 Folder : 1-2 Photoreproductions

Scope and Contents

Two historical images on boards: "Traffic in Union Square, 1897" and the Brooks Brothers store (since demolished) in 1883.

undated

Return to Top »