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Astor Place Renovation, 1978-1986

Astor Place Renovation, 1978-1986

Includes papers from 1978-1986.

Call Number:   C 5CL5 A856 Shelf T

Historical Note:

On October 2th, 1904, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company began operation on New York’s first subway line. It ran from City Hall to 145th Street and Broadway, with a local stop at Astor Place. The architectural firm Heins and LaFarge were commissioned to design stations and buildings along the route, including the showpiece, City Hall, as well as Astor Place. It was the intent of the Board of Rapid Transit Railroad Commissioners for each station to vary in some way so that passengers could recognize their station without reading a sign – a sloop for South Ferry and a beaver for Astor Place, chosen to represent the beaver pelt trade that helped to make John Jacob Astor wealthy.

By 1978, Astor Place as well as the other stations on the IRT line were falling into disrepair. In July of 1978, with the mission to restore the station, Mary Blade, an Engineering professor at Cooper Union, founded the Committee for Astor Place. Co-chaired by John White, President of Cooper Union, and John Sawhill, President of New York University, the committee included representatives from local design firms, schools, businesses, and religious organizations.

Cooper Union and New York University donated $10,000 each, hoping to use MTA’s federally-funded Adopt-A-Station program to get their project started. Brooke Astor and The Vincent Astor Foundation also donated a one-to-one challenge grant for $100,000. The architectural firm Prentice & Chan, Ohlhausen was contracted and in 1986, renovation was finally complete.

Scope and Content:

This collection includes papers between the dates 1978-1986, though the majority of the contents are between the years 1979-1981. Letters discuss the beginning of the Committee and Architectural Subcommittee, fundraising, and event planning.

Key Names:

Cooper Union, New York University, MTA, Milton Glaser, Brooke Astor, The Vincent Astor Foundation.

Extent of Collection: 1 box; .42 linear ft.; with poster.

Finding Aid prepared by Katie Blumenkrantz, February, 2016.

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