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The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council
Walk down the brownstone-lined streets Prospect Heights and you would be forgiven for thinking you were in a historic district. Located just to the north of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, the cohesive district contains rows of beautiful Neo-Grec and Italianate style rowhouses built in the last 35 years of the nineteenth century. While the neighborhood has seen little change in the nearly 150 years since it first developed, major change is coming in the form of the Atlantic Yards project, as well as other current development. At a press conference in December 2006, the National Trust for Historic Preservation called the historic brownstone neighborhoods surrounding the Atlantic Yards site are a national treasure, and preservation of their character a national concern.
The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council is especially concerned that the increased development pressures may lead to the demolition of brownstones that would erode the character of the neighborhood. The city Landmarks Preservation Commission had surveyed the area in the late 1970s, and at that time decided that part of the neighborhood was eligible for historic district designation. PHNDC believes, however, that a larger area should be protected.
After some basic training in surveying from Municipal Art Society preservationists, including a quick course in architectural terminology and styles, an army of more than twenty volunteers from Prospect Heights took to the streets and surveyed and photographed roughly one thousand buildings. Still more volunteers undertook the laborious task of entering the information into a database. Having the information in the database allowed us to use MAS’ Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map the historic buildings and create boundaries for the proposed historic district. In January 2007, the database was submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, along with photographs and a proposal for a historic district of more than 900 buildings.
The Prospect Heights Historic District was designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on June 23, 2009.