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Volume 79, Number 8 | July 29 - August 4, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Students in Aaron Eng-Achson’s second-grade class at P.S. 42 pose with models they made of New York landmarks. The students wrote letters hoping to convince the city to add a new landmark to the list: Confucius Plaza.

Students make case for landmarking Confucius Plaza

Aaron Eng-Achson and his second-grade E.S.L. class from P.S. 42 spent this spring learning about landmarks. To teach the children how new landmarks get created, Eng-Achson brought his class to the Landmarks Preservation Commission last month.

Before the visit, the students wrote persuasive pieces to L.P.C. Chairperson Bob Tierney, hoping to convince him that Confucius Plaza, a 760-unit limited-equity co-op and the tallest building in Chinatown, deserves landmark status. The students gave architectural, historical, aesthetic, moral, and economic reasons why Confucius Plaza is important to the Chinese community and to the New York City community at large. 

“I would like for you to make Confucius Plaza a landmark because it gave elderly people a clean, safe place to live,” wrote Lila Chen, one of Eng-Achson’s students. “It is over 30 years old. It is one of a kind landmark. It is the tallest building in Chinatown. It is flat and semi-circle.”

In addition to teaching his students about landmarks, Eng-Achson hoped to teach them about being active in their community, regardless of the fact that they are young and are still learning English.

“They were very impressed with my 7-year-olds,” Eng-Achson said of the commissioners.

The L.P.C. is reviewing the students’ request, a spokesperson said.

The mission to landmark Confucius Plaza has special meaning for Eng-Achson, because his father, Allan Eng-Achson, advocated for the building in the 1970s as a way to maintain Chinatown as an affordable residential community.

Before visiting the L.P.C. June 23, the P.S. 42 students spent five months discussing the meaning of landmarks and their implications for their local community. Their study focused on landmarks around the city but particularly in Chinatown, near their school on Hester St.

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