240-242 Columbus Avenue, at the time of its inclusion in the designation of the
Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District (1990),
via the LW! Online Building Database
Where the tastes and culture of Cuba once reigned supreme, a French wine bar/bistro hopes to soon open its doors.  But at the expense of our neighborhood’s rich, multi-faceted cultural history.

Both the past and future of 240 Columbus Avenue were the subject of significant debate at the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) on Tuesday.  Specifically: to preserve or to demolish a circa-1980 mural depicting a young man and oxen in a sugar cane field (pictured below in 1990 and today). 

Victor’s Cafe, 1990. (Photo: Landmarks Preservation Commission
designation report for the UWS/CPW Historic District.

Left: 71st Street frontage; Right: Columbus Avenue frontage. Both present day.
(Photo: LW!)

The mural “is emblematic of a notable moment in this neighborhood’s larger history. LW! believes strongly that it is the layered quality of our neighborhood that adds richness and character, and so preserving our layered history is important” (read LW’s full statement here).  Victor’s Cafe, former tenant of the restaurant space, commissioned the mural and is remembered by many as a pioneer among West Side dining establishments, as DNA Info’s Leslie Albrecht reported.

Albrecht quoted author Peter Salwen: 
He was the real pioneer in revitalizing Columbus Avenue, and for a long time the only one — before him there wasn’t a single restaurant on the surrounding blocks, and in fact you would hesitate to walk on many of them after dark.” 

Our colleagues at Historic Districts Council (HDC) also acknowledged Victor’s Cafe’s role in keeping “the Upper West Side a vibrant neighborhood during some of New York City’s toughest times.”  For HDC’s complete statement to the LPC, advocating to preserve the Victor’s Cafe mural, click here (fourth project, listed as “Item 12”). 

Following testimony from LW!, HDC and other concerned members of the public, the LPC indicated that further research was needed on the history of the mural before they could render a decision.  The item will be brought back for discussion at a later public meeting; stay tuned for updates!

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