New York City's landmarks law is fifty years old, and to celebrate this milestone the Museum of the City of New York mounted an exhibition to tell the story. Using both historic documents and contemporary photographs, the curators (Andrew S. Dolkart and Donald Albrecht, with Seri Worden) told this story well, from the demolition of the 1803 St. John's Chapel in 1918 through the enactment of the law itself in 1965 to the continuing efforts of preservationists to protect the historic city in the twenty-first century. If I had one quibble it was that they made it all seem so easy, so inevitable. The conflicts and controversies were there—the loss of Pennsylvania Station and the fights to save Grand Central Terminal and the Broadway theaters, the long campaign to protect Greenwich Village, the battle over a tower proposed for St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue—but they were presented in a...

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