Photo courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy

The Vanishing of Carolyn Wells: Investigations into a Forgotten Mystery Author

Tuesday, March 5th, 6pm via Zoom

A decade before Agatha Christie entered the scene, another female writer was already queen of the country house murder. Churning out multiple thrillers a year from her Upper West Side apartment home, Carolyn Wells was dubbed “about the biggest thing in mystery novels in the U.S.” in the 1920s.

Yet a hundred years later, Carolyn Wells has been all but erased from literary history. Why? How?

Author Rebecca Barry is on the case. Her investigation into the vanishing of Carolyn Wells takes us on an exciting journey of discovery from Wells’ birthplace in NJ to the Upper West Side, where she spent her final twenty-five years, and includes stops at public and private collections that yield plenty of enticing clues.

In a sleuthing narrative worthy of its subject, Barry recovers the life and work of a brilliant writer who was considered one of the funniest, most talented women of her time.




Photo courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy

The Great Blizzard of 1888

Tuesday, March 19th, 6pm via Zoom

Sunday, March 11, 1888, began as an average day. By afternoon the day was in the mid-40s before a light rain began that evening. But temperatures fell rapidly overnight, and the rain turned to snow. Blizzard conditions quickly developed, and a furious storm gathered over the Mid-Atlantic states.

What happened next would become known as the Great Blizzard of 1888.

The Great Blizzard was among the first photographed natural disasters in the city’s history. Weather historian Rob Frydlewicz of the NYC Weather Archive blog uses some of the most indelible images to take us back to the days of a storm without parallel. A time before subways and snowplows, when 24 million cubic yards of snow had to be removed by hand.

Rob brings to LW! tales of the heroic and the tragic and a story of the Great Blizzard that has never been forgotten.




Graphic for "What are Special Districts" event with George Janes

What are Special Districts? A Conversation with George Janes

Tuesday, April 2nd, 6pm via Zoom

In examining the proposed City of Yes zoning text amendments, the question has been raised about how City of Yes will impact the many Special Purpose Districts across the city. But what is a Special Purpose District and how do they help preserve unique community character? 

The City Planning Commission has been designating these districts since 1969 to achieve specific planning and urban design objectives. These districts can also be seen as preservation tools in protecting specific streetscape characteristics but also zoning uses such as specific commercial corridors. Ranging from the Hillsides Preservation District of Staten Island to the Special Grand Concourse District of the Bronx, these tools are important, but not always well understood.    

Join this online conversation with zoning expert George Janes where he explains the history of special districts in New York and how these can be used as a tool for neighborhood preservation, especially with the proposed changes coming from the City of Yes proposals.  LW! Members are invited to purchase tickets to this event as a “Friend of HDC.”





The Opulent Apartment Houses of The Boulevard VIDEO

This event has passed, but a link to the full 1.25 hour video can be purchased below. 

The Ansonia, the Belleclaire, the Dorilton, the Belnord, the Apthorp: five of the finest apartment hotels of “The Boulevard” on the Upper West Side. It was the turn of a new century and people like William Waldorf Astor and William Earl Dodge Stokes had a vision for a new way of living. They imagined the well-to-do living, hotel-style, in gracious apartments flanking a fashionable boulevard similar to the Champs-Élysées in Paris. (This explains why the first three of the above were so French in style.) 

Historian Tom Miller (aka The Daytonian in Manhattan blogger) takes us along The Boulevard, circa the heyday of these impressive and aspirational buildings. Tiptoeing past the vigiliant doormen of the day, we’ll gawk at the courtyards, architecture and ornamentation; delve into the stories of some of the more colorful residents; and revel in the apartments’ upscale and innovative amenities. 






Only Murders In The Building: Staging the Scene of the Crime VIDEO

This event has passed, but a link to the full 1.5 hour video can be purchased below 

A murder. A trio of neighbors-turned-crime investigators-turned-podcasters. A landmarked building. A perfect evening! If you’ve been pulled into the whodunnit world inside the luxe Arconia building (aka the Belnord on the UWS), you can’t miss this “how-dunnit” special event. 

Emmy-winning Production Designer Curt Beech and Set Decorator Rich Murray and Art Director Jordan Jacobs from the hit Hulu show Only Murders In The Building will share their secrets on everything from scouting the perfect NYC building for this caper of capers to creating the entire glittering world within.

OMITB fans have been gushing over the lavish and eclectic interior set design crafted by our über-talented speakers that has made the fictional Arconia a full-fledged cast member. That courtyard! The lobby! Even the elevator! And of course, the unbelievable rambling pre-war apartments for each character: maximalist Oliver, sophisticated & quirky Charles, inscrutable Mabel and a host of others (no spoilers). Hear how every detail, color palette, texture and style were carefully curated to create a set that feels real and wholly New York City.

The Historic Districts Council and Landmark West! invite you in for an evening to peek behind the designer curtains (there will be photos!) of one of the most popular series that also features one of our city’s finest landmarks!






Holding the Safety Net in San Juan Hill VIDEO

Wednesday, January 25th 6-7pm via Zoom  

Please join Landmark West! and architectural historian Jessica Larson in this exploration of the ways in which Black charity and reform initiatives shaped the landscape of San Juan Hill, the community Robert Moses demolished to make way for the Lincoln Center for the Perforning Arts complex, in the early decades of the 20th century. Larson will focus in on the architecture of the buildings constructed to facilitate this social work, and together we will look at how the built environment of San Juan Hill was shaped by community-driven efforts to address poverty and improve the quality of life for the residents. Because charity work was deeply gendered, Larson will emphasize the significance of women to the spatial and welfare programs of the neighborhood.

Speaker Jessica Larson is a Ph.D. candidate in Art and Architectural History at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her dissertation examines the architecture of charitable and reform institutions built in Manhattan for Black aid recipients between the Civil War and World War I, with a focus on how women reformers directed to these designs. She has held fellowships with the American Council of Learned Societies, the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Library of Congress. She has also worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Princeton University Art Museum, and the Bruce Museum. Jessica is currently a Fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Museum of American History.   




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