Over the last year, the expansion—perhaps the largest single construction project in Village history, an addition of floor space that nearly amounts to an Empire State Building—has been clearing administrative hurdles, the land use battle shifting in the university’s favor.
The influence of the community celebrated for Stonewall, Bob Dylan, and the Beats has proved continually ineffective against NYU, the state's biggest school and one of the city’s biggest landowners. Over the course of the last century, NYU and its neighbors have fought over almost every major expansion, and the results have been decidedly one-sided.
"The mellow old landmarks of Greenwich Village are rapidly disappearing beneath modern glass monuments to the bourgeois respectability against which the Bohemians revolted forty years ago," Ira Henry Freeman wrote in The New York Times in 1957. Others placed the blame squarely on the university. The paper’s architecture critic, Ada Louise Huxtable, wrote in 1964 that NYU had a "consistent blindness to the area’s architectural and historical features."
NYU chairman Martin Lipton received over 5,000 emails asking the university to preserve the Poe house, and the university agreed—“As far I know,” local historian Luther Harris told the Times, “and I’ve called NYU to ask—I think that was the first time NYU has ever compromised." But when the construction fences came down, the façade of the Poe house had been rebuilt with new materials. "There were simply not enough bricks left," university spokesman John Beckman explained in The Villager. "The agreement was it would include a representation of the facade of the kind of building that would have been on that street at the time Edgar Allan Poe lived there. And N.Y.U. has done that."Embedded in the article is a link to phenomenal slideshow of before and after the construction of NYU's Vanderbilt Hall.