By Lincoln Anderson
One of the city’s leading preservation advocacy organizations, the Historic Districts Council, presented its Grassroots Preservation Awards last Wednesday night in the Parish House courtyard at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery at E. 10th St. and Second Ave.
Among the honorees were The Villager and Villager reporter Albert Amateau, who accepted H.D.C.’s Friend From the Media award on behalf of himself and the newspaper. Among other local honorees receiving awards were the Seaport Community Coalition and Community Board 1 for their long and ultimately successful fight to “downzone” the Seaport area to prevent high-rise construction.
Union Sq.-area preservationist Jack Taylor, who has previously been honored as a “Landmark Lion” by H.D.C., made the award presentation to Amateau. In his remarks, Taylor noted that The Villager this year celebrated its 70th anniversary and that the newspaper covers what some might call “the heart of the city.”
Said Taylor, “That heart has been beating the stronger for The Villager’s consistent coverage of historic preservation and landmarking issues.”
He noted that Amateau just the previous day had covered the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation of the Gansevoort Historic District in the Meat Market as the city’s latest historic district. He added that Amateau in his distinguished career in Manhattan community journalism had earlier covered the designation of the Ladies Mile Historic District as well as the Central Park West/Upper West Side Historic District.
Taylor praised Amateau as “that uncanny journalist who actually understands historic preservation and landmarking. So if you’re being interviewed by Al, you don’t have to start from square one. He knows what you’re talking about.”
In his acceptance speech, Amateau said, “It’s a privilege to accept the Historic Districts Council’s Friends From the Media Award on behalf of The Villager, myself and my colleagues for our coverage of landmarks and preservation issues.
“For newspapers that cover Downtown — the Village, the East Village and Chelsea — where the past is always present and always bumping up against the future, preservation is compelling news.
“It affects visitors and people who live and work here. It affects our institutions and businesses.
“So we really should have joint custody of the award. H.D.C. and the preservation community, you are Friends of the Media and the Public.
“Thanks for reminding us of the living treasures that we live with,” Amateau said. “Thanks for your research, your advocacy and your enthusiasm.”