Scenic Landmarks

CRITERIA for Scenic Landmarks

According to the Landmarks Preservation Commission

Scenic Landmarks

Are City-owned parks or other landscape features.

To become a scenic landmark, an outdoor site must:

  • Be at least 30 years old
  • Have “a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the City, state, or nation”
  • Be a landscape feature or aggregate of landscape features

JURISDICTION of Scenic Landmarks

The Public Design Commission (PDC) generally has jurisdiction over City-owned property, but shares jurisdiction over scenic landmarks with the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).  

City projects where LPC is advisory, and the Public Design Commission is binding, will be calendared as LPC public meeting items and, therefore, public testimony will not be taken.  The LPC will not be taking testimony because the agency’s review in this particular instance is wholly advisory and the Public Design Commission (formerly the Art Commission) will be reviewing the application, holding a public hearing and making the final, binding decision on the project. 

Under the Landmarks Law, the LPC reviews applications for work on city property, and city aided projects, pursuant to section 25-318.  Unlike agency review of applications for work by private property owners, applications reviewed under section 318 result in advisory reports as opposed to binding Certificates of Appropriateness, Certificates of No Effect and Permit for Minor Work.  While the Landmarks Law does not require a public hearing for a report under section 318,  the Commission has generally held a hearing if the work would have been reviewed as a CofA if it was privately owned.  However, LPC review of such city projects was substantially changed in the late 1990s, when section 854(h) of the City Charter, concerning the jurisdiction and power of the PDC, was amended to streamline city review of projects that were reviewed by both the LPC and the PDC.  Now, with applications involving buildings and structures (but not works of art) and occurring primarily within landmark sites and within the boundaries of historic districts, the LPC is binding because it is acting as, and in lieu of, the PDC.  In sceniclandmarks, the LPC is binding only on work on “existing buildings”; all other applications for work in scenic landmarks are advisory.  Under the amended section 854(h), the PDC does not review projects where the LPC has primary jurisdiction.  

In an effort to continue the policy goal of streamlining and eliminating duplicative and time consuming review processes, the LPC and the PDC have decided that the PDC should be the primary  forum for public involvement for city projects where the LPC is acting solely in an advisory capacity, as the PDC is the binding agency for projects of this sort with some exceptions, e.g. new buildings or significant alterations within scenic landmarks.

The Public Design Commission has binding jurisdiction over the following elements within scenic landmarks: installation or conservation or art, construction of new structures, and works of landscape architecture. Where the Public Design Commission is binding, LPC has advisory review. A written report from LPC must accompany the Public Design Commission submission.

LPC has binding jurisdiction over all work to individual landmarks and historic districts, with the exception of the installation or conservation of art, as well as alterations or additions to existing structures within scenic landmarks.

In general, the subordinate agency will make recommendations memorialized after a public hearing in an advisory report but defer final decision to the governing agency for the final binding report.  The PDC is tasked with the oversight of all public artworks and monuments, but also includes public structures and open spaces.  The LPC issues binding reports for alterations proposed to structures such as the Bow Bridge or Belvedere Castle within Scenic landmarks like Central Park.

The Upper West Side has three designated Scenic Landmarks.  

Beyond these three designated scenic landmarks there are also pocket parks, plazas and playgrounds within the boundaries of historic districts.  Although not all parks are protected by designation status, building on parkland requires an lengthy alienation process (the taking of parkland for a non-park use) and is not very common of a practice. 

Heard March 26, 1974; Designated January 28,1975

843 acres; Fifth Avenue to Central Park West, 59th Street to 110th Street.


Heard May 30, 1974; June 25, 1974; July 23, 1974; October 8, 1974; Designated January 28,1975

.10 acres; between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenues, West 72nd Street to West 73rd Street.



Heard September 11, 1979; Designated February 19,1980

266.7 acres; Riverside Drive to Hudson River, West 72nd Street to St. Clair Place.




Contact Information

Sean Khorsandi
Executive Director
45 West 67th Street New York, NY 10023

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