Edith Wharton was known for her good taste, but she didn’t like brownstones. In The Age of Innocence, she famously described these iconic buildings as looking like, “cold chocolate sauce.”
What Edith Wharton disdained FRIENDS now celebrates and vigorously protects, along with the full range of the historic architecture that surrounds us on the Upper East Side—from mid-century concrete, steel, and glass structures to the little wooden houses that are the oldest buildings on our streets. A good portion of this architectural abundance is protected by landmark designation.
But the livability and sense of place of our neighborhood depends on more than its landmarks. The human scale of its low-rise side streets, the variety and intimacy of its small avenue shops, the beauty and respite of its parks and open spaces are essential to its character. For four decades – yes, it’s our 40th Anniversary! – FRIENDS has been dedicated to building on these strengths to sustain and enhance the core urban values of the Upper East Side and guide its future.
As we face that future, our mission and goals have never met with greater urgency. We ask you now to support these vital efforts with a year-end donation of $500, $1000, $2500 or more to FRIENDS.
Your support provides FRIENDS with the tools needed to mobilize residents, small businesses, policy makers and other stakeholders around the most critical planning and preservation issues affecting the Upper East Side.
Here are just some of the ways you have helped us make a difference on the Upper East Side:
- In the fight against the block-busting New York Blood Center/Longfellow commercial tower, FRIENDS’ leadership role in a broad coalition of elected officials, civic leaders, and residents resulted in a reduction of 100 feet in height (1/3 of the proposed building), preserving light and air on a narrow midblock site for the neighboring public school and park.
- After FRIENDS brought wide attention to the issue of developers using a “mechanical void” loophole to push ever-taller buildings to new, unprecedented heights, the City Council passed legislation to limit this egregious practice.
- In an effort to shine a spotlight on our community’s treasured small shops, FRIENDS has launched Beyond the Bricks, a multi-site exhibit that explores the history of each building, the stories of the current proprietors, and enlivens many of these spaces with the work of contemporary artists. The self-guided gallery walk and exhibit will be up through mid-January. Or you can visit our website any time for an armchair stroll.
- Our popular walking tours have returned live, along with the continuation of our regular Zoom gatherings that have drawn audiences from around the country and the world. Our online Video Library contains 40 illustrated talks. And our pioneering children’s education program, Young FRIENDS, continues to inspire our very youngest preservationists, year after year.
Your support enables FRIENDS to sustain and enhance the character and core urban values of the Upper East Side.
We are energized each year by the enthusiasm and financial support of our donors. Your gifts make it possible for FRIENDS to conduct public campaigns on behalf of the entire neighborhood, and we rely on your continued support to fuel this work.
Your generous support today will help ensure that we can continue all this important work, fighting to preserve the Upper East Side so we can celebrate it in the years to come.
With thanks and warm wishes for the holidays,