Monday, March 5, 2012

Some Unfortunate News

We haven't been active lately. Mainly our vision for Yonkers isn't the same that many people "in power" have. A bit discouraging? Yes, but we are coming back because of some very unfortunate news. One of Yonkers' most historical sites is currently threatened to be destroyed.

Yonkers Teutonia Built 1891

In typical Yonkers style, the Teutonia (a German singing hall), is under threat from developers and a city government that works with them. In his state of the city speech last week, Mayor Spano proposed a new school and large residential building for the site. Also the city wants to build ANOTHER parking garage. Essentially the plan is supposed to emulate NYC schools/high-rise development.  

This historical building used to host large German-speaking crowds as they would celebrate their culture. The Teutonia was essentially the hub of German culture in Yonkers and the Bronx. At the time of its construction there were 10 million Germans in the U.S. and this site is key to their history. Check out this site for more info on it:

Over the past years, though, the hall as remained vacant. Here are some pics courtesy of Hudson Valley Ruins by Rob Yasinsac:

Anyway, in an already overdeveloped downtown area, the preservation and use of historic buildings are key to attracting people to the area whether for the day or to live there. In many ways, downtown Yonkers has characteristics similar to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which has become a very trendy neighborhood. With the Yonkers Metro-North Station, Yonkers has the ability to become the next hot neighborhood in the NYC area.

However, the City of Yonkers is obsessed with building up rather than sprucing up. The downtown Yonkers redevelopment has been a mixed bag. You have X20s and the Science Barge. The use of the Yonkers City Victorian Pier for X20s is a bit of a shame, but it is attracting many people so the cost-benefit analysis makes it a success. The Science Barge attracts a very large amount of people, especially younger people. There are a few other success examples in the area, but there have been MANY flops and they have involved development on a larger scale. Most important example are the residential buildings on the Hudson that are now rentals and not Coops. 

Places like Boston, Baltimore, and now Brooklyn boomed because it used its history to connect with the present. The destruction of the Teutonia will, firstly, show disregard for a very important past and, secondly, not be sensible.

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