“Nothing on the Upper West Side slipped as dramatically as 72nd Street, from a prestigious parkway of private houses in the 1880s to little shop fronts and commercial buildings in the 1920s…but in recent years the block has taken on a honky-tonk air.”
– Christopher Gray, The New York Times , 8/10/97
Thanks to a team effort by business owners, landlords, city agencies, and LANDMARK WEST’s Retail Assistance Program (RAP) – a collaboration honored by our 2000 “Unsung Heroes of the Upper West Side”  awards – West 72nd Street was restored to a vibrant retail destination.  Starting in 1997, RAP secured $1,050,000 in city capital budget funds for:
•  New “landmark gray” sidewalks and granite curbs
•  Roadway repaving
•  New tree pits and streets trees
•  Historic Bishop’s Crook lampposts, replacing cobra-head lampposts and doubling the number of lights on the street
•  6 “muni-meters”, replacing 51 parking meters
In addition, RAP worked with merchants and building owners to:
•  Remove 18 obtrusive sidewalk canopies
•  Remove 13 exterior security gates
•  Remove dozens of illegal and inappropriate signs
•  Install new, attractive signs and retractable awnings
•  Restore building façades
•  Rethink storefront designs and window displays
Was RAP a success?  Read more about it in our Spring 1998 newsletter.  Our efforts were recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation when the block was named a semi-finalist for a “Great American Main Street Award” in 2003.  We encourage you to stroll, stop and shop along West 72nd Street today.  See for yourself whether RAP (so touchingly praised by the owners of Long’s Bedding & Interiors at 121 West 72nd Street back in August 1998, see below) has stood the test of time.
“Long’s Love Letter” 

Dear Landmark West!                              

We wish to commend you and your committee for your outstanding work on restoring West 72nd Street (Broadway/Amsterdam to Columbus) to the beginnings of its former glory. In your unique, persistent way, you managed to get the job done properly.

When you first approached us about taking down our canopy and awning, we mistakenly thought the committee was another “ten minute wonder” that would create a lot of commotion and accomplish nothing, while burdening us with unneeded stress and costs. We thought West 72nd Street, committee or not, would remain an architectural nightmare of dirty, unsightly buildings, and that any improvements on our part would be a waste of time and money. We felt the removal of our canopy and awning was unfairly being forced upon us.

The turning point for us came the day you brought in some beautiful, historical photographs, showing West 72nd Street in the early 20th century. We were impressed with the overall elegance of the block and the purity of the architecture at the time. After you left, we looked outside our door and realized how the block had been tastelessly changed into an ugly commercial strip, and how restoration to the feeling of a bygone era might restore some of the block’s former elegance. We fully understood your vision, and realized LW’s intentions were the best and that restoration was not only a possibility but a probability.

We have completely reversed our thinking and happily support LW’s good work. In support and agreement, we have voluntarily removed our canopy and plan to continue with the removal of our awning in the near future. They will be replaced by a roll down awning conforming to Landmark’s standards. A new sign is being ordered to be placed in the front window of the store. We have abandoned the idea of erecting a sign, lighted or otherwise, on the exterior of the building, since we feel it will detract from the outside appearance of the building. We are even making improvements to the interior of our store, to continue the positive feelings inside as well as outside.

We are delighted with the work completed so far. The new sidewalks, granite curbs, lampposts and muni-meters have greatly improved the appearance of the block and seem to be attracting more pedestrian traffic.

Again, our compliments on a job well done. We look forward to the continuance of improvements, by LW!, local merchants and building owners.


Robert and Judith Long
Long’s Bedding & Interiors, Inc. (a family business since 1911)

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