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The Insider's Connection

Richard Haas

Yorkville: Behind the Mural on 83rd Street

Is large-scale art expected to speak for a neighborhood or community? York Avenue–named after US Army Sergeant Alvin York for honorable actions in World War II and grounding the neighborhood in its German roots–has rapidly gentrified in the recent decades. Yorkville, or the Upper East Side, continues to shift and evolve; it’s structures, residents, and community look different today than it has in the past. When a neighborhood changes, is its history threatened? How much should developers consider a neighborhood’s past when contributing to its future? In the early 2000’s, a 28-story condo building was being developed on 83rd and York. The new building’s lobby faces a 6-story tenement on the opposite corner and at the time, that building was covered in graffiti. Fielding complaints from soon-to-be residents, the developer made a deal with the tenement building’s owner to hire artist…

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June 3, 2019