It's official. Today the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to designate DUMBO a historic district, pending City Council approval.
The area, composed of 91 industrial buildings dated mostly from 1880 to 1920, is bound by John Street to the north, York Street to the south, Main Street to the west and Bridge Street to the east. It is the city's 90th historic district. The district contains the Manhattan Bridge, and its support piers and anchorage also are protected. So are the granite Belgian block sidewalks and train tracks.
Here is LPC Chairman Robert B. Tierney's statement:
“DUMBO was essential to Brooklyn’s rise as a major manufacturing center, and was home to some of America’s most important industrial firms that produced everything from ale and paper boxes to soap and steel wool,” said Commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney, “DUMBO’s distinctively designed buildings and sublime vistas survive to this day, and still define its character, even as it has evolved into a largely residential neighborhood. This designation will ensure that this still-evolving neighborhood retains its unique historic character.”
According to the LPC press release, in 1900, at the height of the area's use as a manufacturing center, there were 10,713 factories there, employing 100,881 people. In 1913, three of the ten industrial firms with more than 1,000 employees were located in DUMBO. Goods produced then include coffee, tea, sugar, machinery, paint, varnish, shoes, handkerchiefs, meters and kitchenware. There's more history here.
The earlier buildings feature brick facades and extra-large wooden columns and beams, while the later ones were built with reinforced concrete. Some noteworthy buildings include:
- 20 Jay St, built in 1909 for the Arbuckle Brothers who ran the nation's largest coffee roaster and packaging company
- 135 Plymouth St., built in 1901 for EW Bliss, a machinery manufacturer
- 26-38 Washington St., built in 1887 for Robert Gair Co., which made boxes, printed labels, stationery and other paper products.
Maybe we're reading into things, but the release never actually uses the words "DUMBO Historic District," so we wonder, following the chatter, if that's what it is being called.
Photo of (left to right) 135 Plymouth Street, 20 Jay Street, and 26-38 Washington Street from the LPC's report.
Update: It's settled. The name is DUMBO Historic District, according to LPC spokesperson Elisabeth de Bourbon.