Scenic & Historic District
Portraits of the Past, Visions for the Future
Utica’s remarkable past as one of the nation’s most progressive and rapidly growing cities in the 19th and early 20th centuries, is evident in the extraordinary buildings that still line many of her streets.
Through the work of Utica’s Scenic and Historic Preservation Commission, and the Scenic and Historic Districts the group has designated, those structures are more than portraits of a bygone era. An increasing number are being recognized and utilized as sources of community pride and catalysts for revitalization.
The Commission was established in January 1994 by Utica’s Common Council following passage of the Scenic and Historic Preservation Act. The Commission’s role is to protect and enhance landmarks and historic districts that represent distinctive elements of the City’s historic, architectural and cultural heritage — in the process, fostering civic pride, enhancing the City’s attractiveness to visitors and promoting future growth and development.
Appointed by the mayor, members of the Commission include at least one architect, one nominee each of the Landmarks Society and Oneida County Historical Society, and at least one other individual who has demonstrated significant interest in and commitment to historic preservation.
Scenic and Historic Districts
One of the Commission’s original orders of business was to designate Scenic and Historic Districts within the City. They follow the path of some of Utica’s earliest and most noteworthy development, encompassing more than 1,500 parcels of land and properties.
Roughly, the Districts follow Genesee Street north from the New Hartford town line, to Water Street at the railroad tracks; an eastern extension off Genesee encompassing areas around South and Rutger streets, Park Avenue and Steuben Park; Pleasant Street east from Genesee Street to Tilden Avenue; Herkimer Road in north Utica from Leland Avenue to the Schuyler Town line; and in west Utica, in a multiblock area bordered approximately by Varick, Schulyer and Columbia streets.
Partners in Preservation
As guardian of the historic character of the Districts, the Commission works with property owners planning new construction, restoration, alterations or renovations to ensure compliance with the prescribed standards. Its goal is to partner with the owner in a way that brings about uniformity, stimulates cohesiveness and ultimately increases property values.
About 60 percent of the Commission’s work involves commercial properties — often signage or facade issues. However, projects are also as basic as painting or fencing homes.
The Commission has the authority to approve or reject the owner’s plan – including proposed demolitions – and monitors approved projects for compliance. It also offers guidance on how compliance can be achieved.
Questions in filling out an application may be directed to:
City of Utica, Urban & Economic Development Department
1 Kennedy Plaza
Utica, NY 13502
The Scenic & Historic District Commission meets the third Monday of every month at 4 pm.
Utica City Hall, Common Council Chambers
1 Kennedy Plaza
Utica, NY 13502