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1619 Broadway aka 207-213 West 49th Street, The Brill Building, proposed designation

WHEREAS, The Brill Building, 1619 Broadway, aka 207-213 West 49th Street, is an 11-story brick and terra cotta Art Deco building constructed in 1930-31 by Abraham Lefcourt, one of New York's most prolific developers in the 1920's, responsible for some 21 buildings in the Garment Center and elsewhere; and

WHEREAS, Lefcourt originally intended to build a 75-story skyscraper to rival the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building in height and design, but was forced to change his plans due to the premature death of his son, along with the financial impact of the stock market crash on his fortune, forcing him to erect the more modest building we see today; and

WHEREAS, The entrance to the building is highly decorated in Art Deco style with a bust of Alan Lefcourt, who died in an automobile accident at age 17, above the front doors; and

WHEREAS, The building was then sold to the Brill Brothers, after whom the building was named, who had owned a clothing store at street level since 1910, where the Brill Building was constructed; and

WHEREAS, The new owners resorted to renting space to music publishers, as there were few other takers; and

WHEREAS, By the 1940's the Brill Building became a center of activity for the popular music industry, especially music publishing and songwriting with scores of music publishers having offices there; and

WHEREAS, Once songs had been published, the publishers sent "song pluggers" to the popular bands and radio stations of the day to sing and/or play the song for the band leaders to encourage bands to play their music; and

WHEREAS, By 1962 the Brill Building contained 165 music businesses, a musician could find a publisher and printer, cut a demo, promote the record, and cut a deal with radio promoters, all within this one building; and

WHEREAS, The creative culture of the independent music companies in the Brill Building came to define the influential "Brill Building Sound" and the style of popular music songwriting and recording that was created by its writers and producers; and

WHEREAS, The music ranged from jazz to big band and swing to rock and roll, encompassing virtually all genres of American popular music; and 

WHEREAS, Among the performers and songwriters who had offices there were the Dorsey Brothers, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, Burt Bacharach and Carole King; and

WHEREAS, The corner retail space once was the location of Jack Dempsey's a well known bar and restaurant, now Colony Records, and the second floor housed Hurricane Cafe, then Cafe Zanzibar, where Cab Calloway frequently performed; and

WHEREAS, The building’s creative talent won numerous Emmy's, Grammy's, Tony's and Oscars; and

WHEREAS, The owner, Stonehenge Partners, Inc. and representatives of Assembly Member Gottfried and Borough President Stringer appeared before NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission on October 27, 2009 to fully support the designation; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the designation of the Brill Building, 1619 Broadway, aka 207-213 West 49th Street, Manhattan, as a NYC Landmark.

The above resolution passed by a vote of 40 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining.

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