On November 8, 2013, New York City’s Department of Buildings issued an emergency demolition order for the landmarked ‘Castle on the Concourse’ aka PS 31. They cited it as a public safety issue and were concerned that it wouldn’t survive another Sandy-like weather event.
After a winter with record snowfalls and several other buildings suffering major roof collapses due to the tremendous weight of all that snow, PS 31 still stands.
It is something that truly makes you scratch your head because we were told by the DOB that the building is in danger of collapsing and couldn’t be salvaged yet engineering reports from SoBro stated the contrary. Their engineers stated, that although in poor condition, it could still be salvaged.
For almost 20 years, various city administrations, including several Bronx Borough Presidents, left this beloved and precious landmark to rot. It was not until Welcome2TheBronx started a petition last year to help save the landmark building, that our Borough President, Ruben Diaz, Jr finally addressed the situation stating in the State of the Borough address earlier this year that:
“It is an absolute disgrace that the City allowed P.S. 31, one of the most iconic school buildings in our city and my own alma mater, to fall into such disrepair that it is scheduled to be torn down,” said Borough President Diaz. “With that said, it is time for innovation. The city must issue a new RFP for the P.S. 31 site. This RFP should examine whether or not the building can be saved, and should also explore a wide variety of uses for the site in order to stimulate street life and blend in with the neighborhood.”
It must be noted that Diaz Jr also did absolutely NOTHING to help save the school until we made it an issue and took it straight to the Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting in December delivering over 500 signatures on a petition pleading to save the school. The petition was, of course, addressed to the Borough President along with other elected officials and departments and due to all the media attention we were able to provide the necessary pressure for the issue to finally be addressed.
PS 31 sits in the middle of the Lower Concourse Rezoning District and just a couple of blocks away from the Special Harlem River Waterfront District. To a developer, the property is most likely worth more demolished as more hype continues to be built around the neighborhood. But to the community in which it stands, it’s a part of our history that needs to be preserved and can be used as an important cultural space, adding to the many already in the neighborhood.
Please sign and share this petition if you want to make sure that PS 31 is saved.
Below is a series of photographs by Edwin J. Torres who took a tour of the building and was kind enough to share his images with us (exterior shots by Welcome2TheBronx). For those who attended and loved this school, as much as the written testimonies have shown, this may be a rather emotional journey. If it makes you angry and frustrated at the city for allowing such a disgraceful thing to happen to a beloved, landmark building, then turn that anger and frustration into action by signing and sharing the petition and demanding something be done. The Bronx deserves and demands better treatment. We know that no where else in the city would this be acceptable.
Click the images for a larger view.
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