The Landmarks Preservation Commission celebrates 50 years of saving historical New York—but not without its share of controversy.

Whenever I walk by the monstrosity that is
Madison Square Garden or have to travel through the black hole transportation hub beneath it, I bemoan the destruction of the original Penn Station in 1963. But there is some consolation in the obliteration of its fallen Beaux-Arts beauty. Rising out of the ashes, Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Jr. established the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to ensure that the city’s landscape would be preserved.

Comprising a panel of 11 commissioners appointed by the Mayor, and supported by a staff of approximately 67 preservationists, researchers, architects, historians, attorneys, archaeologists, and administrative employees, the LPC is the largest municipal preservation agency in the country and considers designations in all five boroughs. The four design…

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