Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, founded in 1982, is an independent, not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating the architectural legacy, livability, and sense of place of the Upper East Side.

We pursue our mission through rigorous advocacy as well as educational programming for adults and children. Our success can be measured by the neighborhood’s 131 individually designated landmarks and 7 historic districts, encompassing a total of 1,907 protected buildings. We urgently promote the values of common sense zoning and good planning, and believe that the Upper East Side can be a place where architectural beauty, historic resources and new development exist in harmony.

On a day-to-day basis, FRIENDS strives to serve as the eyes and ears of the neighborhood, a source of information for residents and property owners, and an active and reasoned voice in public decisions that affect the historic and cultural resources of the Upper East Side. To that end, FRIENDS testifies on all Landmarks Preservation Commission items affecting the neighborhood, and monitors and testifies before the Community Board, City Planning Commission, Public Design Commission, and City Council, on city government actions likely to impact the Upper East Side.

FRIENDS also works hard to educate the public. We host lectures, sponsor walking tours, and present annual awards to outstanding preservation projects, advocacy efforts, and community service on the Upper East Side. Additionally, we offer educational programming for 1st through 5th graders through our robust Young FRIENDS program. A variety of curricula focus on the appreciation of the built environment and neighborhood history. Our goal is to stimulate an interest in architecture, history, and preservation, while also instilling a sense of community pride and awareness.

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Friends History

FRIENDS of the Upper East Side began as a group of volunteers interested in supporting preservation soon after the designation of the Upper East Side Historic District in 1981.

With the rapidly increasing number of landmarked structures in the city, the Municipal Art Society saw the need for additional local community groups supporting preservation in New York. At the time, there was a growing recognition that designation was only the first step, and that much of the ongoing work of preservation had to do with monitoring and advocating for sensitive change in neighborhood. FRIENDS was one of the many watchdog organizations incubated by MAS. Accordingly, an essential part of our work has been to review every Upper East Side application that appears at a public hearing of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and offer expert testimony.

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Board & Staff

Rachel Levy has held the position of Executive Director since December 2015. Prior to FRIENDS, Rachel had experience working with the Municipal Art Society of New York, Landmark West!, and the Park Slope Civic Council. She serves on the Board of Advisors of the Historic Districts Council and was recognized as a Woman of Distinction by New York State Senator Liz Krueger in 2018. She holds dual M.S. degrees in Historic Preservation and Urban Planning from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and a B.A. in Anthropology from Bryn Mawr College.
Director of Education Heidi Carey brings experience and enthusiasm to her position at FRIENDS. After receiving an AB in History from Georgetown, Heidi earned her MS in Historic Preservation at Columbia. She worked in preservation and design education in rural Pennsylvania - the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office and the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County - and Chicago - the Chicago Architecture Center - before moving to New York, where she has run FRIENDS children’s programming since 2013. She has also taught STEAM lessons for the Bruce Museum in Connecticut and develops architecture enrichment programs for schools in Westchester County, New York. Heidi hails from small-town western Pennsylvania and appreciates the architecture and environs of the diverse locales she has called home. She currently lives in Westchester County with her family.
Prior to joining FRIENDS in November 2019, Lara Secchin worked at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in its Historic Preservation Grant Program. At LPC she was also the Placzek Fellow and helped develop the new edition of LPC’s Permit Guidebook. Additionally, Lara had over five years of experience in preservation, preparing documents such as designation reports and conservations status reports for over thirty historic towns in Brazil. Lara holds an M.S. degree in Historic Preservation from Pratt Institute’s Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, and a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, in Brazil.
Franny Eberhart, President
Rita C. Chu, Vice President
Lionel Goldfrank III, Vice President
David I. Karabell, Vice President
Patricia F. Sullivan, Vice President
Andrew P. Steffan, Treasurer
Alice McG. Concagh, Secretary
Peter deF. Millard, Advisory Seat

George Calderaro
Sarah Chu
Christina R. Davis
Alexandra C. Howard
Thomas Jayne
E. William Judson
Rev. John A. Kamas
Christian Keesee
David W. Levinson
Marjorie F. MacLachlan
Carol E.R. Miller
Genie Rice
Jeanne Sloane
Daniel B. Strickler, Jr.
Arete Warren
Margot Wellington
Ronda Wist

Board of Advisors
Kent L. Barwick
Christopher Collins
Andrew S. Dolkart
Hermes Mallea
Judith Price
Robert C. Quinlan
Gretchen Siebel
Anthony C. Wood

Historic Districts & Landmarks

The Upper East Side has seven historic districts and over 120 individual landmarks designated by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. 

FRIENDS’ Preservation Committee reviews every Upper East Side item that goes to a Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing and weighs in to encourage appropriate changes to designated buildings in our neighborhood. FRIENDS is also a strong voice for expanding preservation protection to more culturally and architecturally significant buildings in our neighborhood.

Most recently, we have focused on bringing recognition to the immigrant history of Yorkville, on the eastern Upper East Side through projects like our original book, Shaped by Immigrants: A History of Yorkville, and targeted advocacy on behalf of these buildings.

Individual Landmarks

In addition to contributing buildings in historic districts, the Upper East Side boasts 131 individual landmarks that have been designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission — learn more about them here.

Historic Districts

For more on types and criteria of landmarks in New York City, there is a wealth of information available on the website of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, including the fantastic Discover NYC Landmarks map. The LPC also maintains helpful and thorough pages about the designation process for new landmarks, the alteration process for designated buildings, and up to date information about current applications. Learn more at the links below.

Contact Us

You can help us be the eyes and ears of the Upper East Side. Get in touch! 

FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts
966 Lexington Avenue, 3E
New York, NY 10021

T: 212-535-2526


    FRIENDS is currently looking to hire a summer intern to start immediately.

    FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts is seeking an intern to assist in the daily operation of an independent non-profit membership organization dedicated to preserving the architectural legacy, livability, and sense of place of the Upper East Side -- including its 131 individual landmarks and seven historic districts.

    The intern will assist the Manager of Preservation and Outreach with advocacy issues and special projects, such as research on Landmarks Preservation Commission issues and written content for FRIENDS’ website. The candidate will also work on planning and zoning issues as part of FRIENDS’ ongoing initiatives to ensure reasonable development on the Upper East Side. In addition, the candidate will work with community groups and government agencies and may appear before the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and the local Community Board. As needed, the intern will also help with general office administration, membership coordination, newsletter production and special events.

    This position requires an enthusiastic, motivated person who is extremely knowledgeable about historic preservation policy and the built environment of New York City. The candidate must have strong communication skills and be comfortable speaking publicly. Excellent writing skills, attention to detail, and ability to adapt to a variety of work assignments as part of a small team are essential. Skills including WordPress and any database management experience are a plus.

    Competitive candidates will have completed at least one year of an advanced degree program in historic preservation program, or will be recent graduates. There is a possibility of extending the internship period into the fall. The paid intern will work 12-20 hours per week. Schedule is flexible, though availability on Tuesdays is a plus. Work is still mainly remote but may entail some time in person. We ask that all candidates demonstrate full vaccination against Covid-19.

    We are looking to fill this role immediately.  Please send a resume, cover letter, and writing sample of less than 10 pages by Wednesday June 15th to:

    Lara Secchin
    Manager of Preservation and Outreach

    FRIENDS of the Upper East Side 2020