Pioneering City Planning in the Heart of NY: George McAneny, Rapid Transit, Zoning, & the Civic Center

George McAneny
George McAneny
Photo: Portrait of George F. McAneny, courtesy of the New York Preservation Archive Project

Prof. Charles Starks’s presentation on George F. McAneny completes our three-part series on the public program History of Foley Square: New York Legal Landmarks & Civic Reform. This event, held on February 27, 2018 at the New York City Bar Association, described the migration of court buildings to Foley Square, architectural concerns surrounding the Square’s creation, and the role of city planner George McAneny in this development. Robert Pigott, Jon Ritter, and Charles Starks presented, while Second Circuit Judge Hon. Dennis Jacobs joined the panel discussion after the presentations. The Society’s President Hon. Albert M. Rosenblatt moderated the panel.

This presentation Pioneering City Planning in the Heart of New York: George McAneny, Rapid Transit, Zoning, and the Civic Center described the role of George McAneny in developing Foley Square into Manhattan’s civic center. McAneny was New York City’s foremost advocate of city planning in the first half of the 20th century. He negotiated contracts to build the city’s subway lines and developed comprehensive zoning law, both of which shaped the future development of downtown Manhattan. McAneny made his influence felt in many other civic debates, including the accommodation of the city’s growing number of courthouses and municipal offices around City Hall Park.


Prof. Starks is a historian of city planning and historic preservation. He holds a Master of City Planning degree from Georgia Tech and a Master of Arts in Regional Studies from Columbia University. Prof. Starks worked for several years as a city planning consultant in New Jersey and New York City before a sojourn in Canada where he was employed by the provincial government of Ontario as a senior planner. Since turning to research and teaching, he has written on planning and preservation in Taipei, Taiwan, and New York City. He currently teaches urban studies at Hunter College, City University of New York.

Be sure to check out the first two presentations of this three-part series. Robert Pigott speaks about the migration of court buildings to Foley Square here, and Prof. Jon Ritter explores the architectural and political negotiations surrounding the creation of Foley Square here.

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