On March 6, forty-nine years ago, munchkins from the Downtown School in the East Village grabbed their banners and wended their way to the steps of the Merchant’s House Museum, singing protest songs all the way. This was the sixties, after all, and when you saw an injustice, that’s what you did, even if you were just a little kid.
Here’s why the children did what they did, and how it all turned out.
For several years, a small group of New Yorkers had become alarmed at the number of architecturally significant old buildings that were falling victims to the wrecker’s ball. In June of 1961, Mayor Robert Wagner had appointed a committee to come up with recommendations on how New York City’s old buildings could be protected. Their advice was that the mayor appoint a permanent advisory Landmarks Preservation Commission to survey potential landmark buildings and draft legislation to help preserve them.