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Harlem Renaissance landmarks may be protected within a historic district

Notable buildings include Scott Joplin’s home and the New Amsterdam Musical Association HQ.

The row houses on West 131th Street are

The row houses on West 131th Street are part of the proposed historic district. Photo Credit: New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission

Harlem’s historic town houses and shops will soon be protected for generations to come.

The city’s Landmark Preservation Commission voted Tuesday to designate 164 properties located between West 130th and 132nd streets a historic district. The row-houses date back to the late 19th century and were used by black artists, leaders and community groups during the Harlem Renaissance.

“This district is a remarkable reminder of the significant role the African American community of Harlem played in creating political and social change in New York City and the nation,” the commission’s chair, Meenakshi Srinivasan, said in a statement.

The landmark application is bound for the City Council, which is expected to approve the designation.

That status would protect the architecture of several notable sites between Lenox and Seventh avenues, including musician Scott Joplin’s home, the New Amsterdam Musical Association headquarters and the offices of the Utopia Neighborhood Club, a black women’s social club that provided health and educational services to children.

The blocks in question contain buildings with neo-Grec, Queen Anne, Renaissance Revival and Romanesque Revival styles.

Lloyd Williams, the president of the 100 West 131st Street Block Association, said the designation will prevent owners from altering the properties without approval from the city.

“The expanding preservation of Harlem’s glorious contextual history is important to Harlem’s and New York City’s future. It is important that the past is prologue,” Williams said in a statement.

Beyond protecting the structures themselves, the commission launched an interactive map offering educational info on the blocks’ significance.

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