Historic New York Buildings Put on `Endangered' List ; Heritage

Article excerpt

LOWER MANHATTAN has joined the ancient city of Damascus and Egypt's Valley of the Kings as home to some of the world's most endangered monuments after the attacks on the World Trade Centre.

The World Monuments Fund, dedicated to safeguarding threatened architectural heritage sites, will publish its fourth biennial list of the 100 sites most in peril tomorrow, and as an emergency measure, has added Lower Manhattan as Site 101.

A 2,400-metre section of New York, from Canal Street to the southernmost tip of the island, has been designated an area under threat, along with six buildings in Britain in need of urgent attention.

The fund is calling for an assessment of the effects of the terrorist attacks on the 65 landmarks and six historical districts in the south of the island, and the removal of ash and pulverised building material. Colin Amery, UK director of the fund, a non- profit organisation, said: "In New York there are 13 major buildings of the historic landmarks that need urgent attention that we believe could be restored. All 63 historic landmarks are important but they are most in need."

The landmarks include Federal Hall, built on the site of George Washington's inauguration in 1789, which was used to care for the wounded after the 11 September attack.

Since New York's establishment as the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam in 1625, the city has been a focus of American life, and the buildings of lower Manhattan chronicle the evolution of American architecture over 375 years.

An appeal has been launched by the World Monuments Fund with four other US-based preservation organisations to alleviate the impact of the disaster and to stabilise, renovate and restore damaged historical sites. A spokesman for the fund said: "The attack on the World Trade Centre, while principally an attack on human life, was also an attack on a cultural symbol.

"We are adding our name to the chorus of voices that would prefer to see businesses and people return to the area."

Some of the world's most famous historic sites, including the Great Wall of China, the Valley of the Kings, the entire old city of Damascus in Syria and Catherine the Great's Chinese Palace have also been included on the list.

Mr Amery said: "Moments such as the destruction of the Giant Buddhas in Afghanistan highlight the fragile state of our world heritage. The list makes an excellent weapon with which to challenge the needless destruction, for whatever reason, of our vanishing history. …