The Wall (SoHo)

"The Wall" is a piece of minimalist art that was constructed in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. It was part of the building that stands at 599 Broadway until 2002 when the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission gave the owners permission to take it down so the interior wall can be repaired. While the owners of the building have since refused to put it back up, it was recently announced that a settlement was reached that will allow The Wall to be reconstructed.

The Artwork

The Wall was built in 1973 under a $2,000 commission by the now defunct City Walls, Inc. It consists of "42 aluminum bars bolted to 42 steel braces, painted green against a blue background" [cite news |first=Ronda|last=Kaysen |title=Soho 'Wall' dispute returns to the courts |url=http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_94/sohowalldisputereturns.html |work=Downtown Express|publisher=Community Media, LLC. |date=2005-02-25 |accessdate=2007-04-23] and takes up 3/4 of the building's wall that it resides on. It stands about 8 stories high. The artist was Forrest "Frosty" Myers.

Removal

Owners of 599 Broadway complained to the LPC in 1997 that the wall was leaking into the building and causing structural damage. The LPC finally allowed the removal of the artwork in 2002 under the condition that the owners put the art back up after work was completed.

In September 2004 the owners were sued by the city to replace the wall. US District Court Judge Deborah Batts threw out the initial defense by the owners that the wall was an infringement of their First Amendment rights.

In May 2005, however, Judge Batts ruled that the City was violating the owners' 5th Amendment rights and the city cannot force the owners to maintain the wall. However, if the city did decide to go through with an order to replace the wall, it would owe the owners fair compensation for the wall's construction. [cite news|first=Ronda|last=Kaysen|title=Judge’s roadblock to 'Wall' return|url=http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_106/judgesroadblockto.html|work=Downtown Express|publisher=Community Media, LLC.|date=2006-05-20|accessdate=2007-04-23]

In April 2007, the City and owners announced a deal whereby the exterior of the building would be increased by 30 feet so the artwork could be installed higher, allowing for street level advertising space. [cite news|first=Chris|last=Bragg|title=High, bright, 'The Wall' will return to Soho wall|url=http://thevillager.com/villager_207/highbrightthewall.html|work=The Villager|Publisher=Community Media, LLC.|date=2007-04-18|accessdate=2007-04-23] Without the artwork, the owners estimated that the wall could generate up to $600,000 in advertising revenue a year.

References


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