About Us

Projects

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Place Matters conducts the Census of Places that Matter—a survey of places in New York City that matter to people. We collaborate with individuals and organizations to promote and preserve places nominated to our Census. And we mount place-based education and advocacy programs. See below for brief descriptions of current efforts. For more detail, contact Place Matters Director Marci Reaven: 212-529-1955 x304 or mreaven@citylore.org.

Census of Places that Matter

The Census of Places that Matter is a survey and "ground-up" way of discovering what places matter and why they matter. We welcome nominations for any kind of place in New York City that you feel has public importance. We set no criteria for why a place is nominated, nor do we set limits on the number of times it is nominated. All comments are posted. The only requirement is that you provide your name. (Names are published only with permission.) You can nominate a place online or on paper. To nominate now, click here. To receive a hard copy of the nomination form, contact us.

Nominations arrive via the website, mail, and public meetings. All nominations are posted to our online Census, and we regularly add photos and fuller "place profiles" to the postings. The Census is becoming a citywide survey, encyclopedia, and guidebook rolled into one. It is also a unique inventory of places that warrant attention and caretaking.

By nominating your place to this inclusive, public list, you will be broadening the public record about meaningful places in New York City. The public will learn more about your specific place, and through this process, will also learn more about New York City, about what people call a "sense of place," and about the role of place in public life.

By educating the public about your place, you are also taking a step toward advocacy. You will be in a better position to ask others for support if the place needs some kind of help. Also, journalists, writers, and others may learn about your place through the Census and help to make it more visible.

We do not currently post nominations for places outside of New York City, but in the future may develop a mechanism for doing so. Place Matters reserves the right to determine if a nomination is unsuitable for publication.

Place-Marking Projects

Since 2003, Place Matters has been experimenting with strategies for marking interesting places to alert passersby to their history and stories. Place-marking not only promotes knowledge of the past, but also encourages greater appreciation for the people and places captured in the markers. Currently, our streetside sign project “Your Guide to the Lower East Side” can still be seen in a number of locations.  Click here for a pdf version of all 28 signs. The E.H.A. Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, and National Endowment for the Arts have supported Place Matters’ place-marking efforts. Visit the Past Projects to learn more about this and other of our place-marking projects.

Place Matters Awards

Place Matters started it awards program on our 10th anniversary in 2008 to draw attention to places nominated to the Census of Places that Matter. A selection committee of place-enthusiasts is assembled for the annual awards to select the honorees for their unique qualities and for representing a way that "place" matters to us all. Each honoree receives a specially designed 10" plaque for mounting.

In 2008, ten places throughout the five boroughs were honored. The 2009 awards focused on places in the borough of the Bronx. Future awards will move to the other boroughs. This program is supported by the American Express Historic Preservation Fund.

See the 2009 Place Matters Awards
See the 2008 Place Matters Awards

SPURA Matters: Re-envisioning Seward Park Urban Renewal Area

Place Matters is collaborating with the tenant activist organization Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), the Pratt Center for Community Development, and a coalition of non-profits on the Lower East Side to help New Yorkers—especially residents and stakeholders on the Lower East Side—to envision new development for an under-used swath of land left over from a particularly troubled episode of 1950s-60s urban renewal.

The project included six community conversations from Fall 2008 to Spring 2009, each including illustrated historical presentations by Place Matters and Prof. Hilary Botein (Baruch College), followed by community visioning sessions. In September 2009, GOLES and Pratt released a report on the visioning sessions and related surveys that captured local resident hopes and ideas for new development in the area. Click here for a pdf version of “Community Voices and the Future of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.”

Related efforts included a “SPURA Matters: 40-year Commemorative Map of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area” produced by Place Matters; a major oral history project with Lower East Side residents conducted by Kara Becker; an exhibit about the area created by Prof. Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani and her class at Eugene Lang College, New School; and a cell phone history tour of local sites by Field Play, Inc. The community conversations and publication were supported by the New York Council for the Humanities.

Spreading the Word

Place Matters is available to speak in New York and other cities about Place Matters project and related topics. A recent presentation at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage in Providence, Rhode Island was titled “Beer Gardens, Ballrooms, and Bookstores: Identifying the Places that Make a City Thrive.” To inquire about a Place Matters presentation to your group, contact Molly Garfinkel, Place Matters Director, 212-529-1955 x303 or molly@citylore.org.