General Information on Place, Commemorative, and Other Historic Markers

The Public Design Commission supports the strategic installation of markers to commemorate people, places, and events significant to New York City’s history and unique identity. The Commission discourages markers for people, places, and events that have been recognized as significant for a period of less than 30 years, unless they are of exceptional importance. The Commission encourages applicants to follow the National Register Criteria for Evaluation as a framework for evaluating significance.

The Commission strongly recommends that a professional historian with the appropriate expertise establish the significance of each subject and thoroughly vet the text and any images. If markers currently exist in the vicinity, the historian should explain why additional ones are needed, so that extraneous markers do not diminish the impact by creating visual clutter.

Place markers should be located as close as possible to the actual sites recognized and oriented to ensure legibility and minimize any contribution to pedestrian congestion.

Proposals for place markers should identify places of significance that:

  • are associated with important historic events or activities, or with the lives of important persons;
  • are sites of buildings, structures, or monuments, whether existing or vanished, of special or distinctive design, construction or character, or have otherwise made an important contribution to the City’s cultural, social, economic, or political history; or that sustain or nurture community traditions and identity;
  • are notable archaeological sites; or are landscape features or other sites that capture distinctively the special identity and character of New York.

Proposals for commemorative markers should also consider the following:

  • For an historical event, a single focal point is preferable, and the marker(s) should be located at or near the scene of the event, in a place as closely or logically related to the event as possible, or in a suitable public space.
  • For an outstanding person, a single marker should be located at or near the scene of the event with which the person is identified, in a place closely identified with that person, or in a suitable public space.
  • For a joint commemoration of multiple persons or their conduct, a single group marker should be located at or near the scene of an important event with which they are jointly identified, in a place with which they are jointly identified, or in a suitable public space. If a subset of such persons is identified with a particular borough, a second marker may be considered for a suitable public space in that borough.
  • Commemoration of circumstances only indirectly related to an important historical event, as distinguished from the event itself, is discouraged.