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.
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.
Board & Staff
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
Christina R. Davis
Alexandra C. Howard
E. William Judson
Rev. John A. Kamas
David W. Levinson
Marjorie F. MacLachlan
Carol E.R. Miller
Daniel B. Strickler, Jr.
Board of Advisors
Kent L. Barwick
Andrew S. Dolkart
Robert C. Quinlan
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.
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.
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.
You can help us be the eyes and ears of the Upper East Side. Get in touch!