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Penn Cent. Transp. Co. v. New York City

Supreme Court of the United States

April 17, 1978, Argued ; June 26, 1978, Decided

No. 77-444


 [*107]  [***638]  [**2650]    MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

 The question presented is whether a city may, as part of a comprehensive program to preserve historic landmarks and historic districts, place restrictions on the development of individual historic landmarks -- in addition to those imposed by applicable zoning ordinances -- without effecting a "taking" requiring the payment of "just compensation." Specifically, we must decide whether the application of New York City's Landmarks Preservation Law to the parcel of land occupied by Grand Central Terminal has "taken" its owners' property in violation  [**2651]  of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Over the past 50 years, all 50 States and over 500 municipalities have enacted [****9]  laws to encourage or require the preservation of buildings and areas with historic or aesthetic importance. 2 [****10]  These nationwide legislative efforts have been  [*108]  precipitated by two concerns. The first is recognition that, in recent years, large numbers of historic structures, landmarks, and areas have been destroyed 3 without adequate consideration of either the values represented therein or the possibility of preserving the destroyed properties for use in economically productive ways. 4 The second is a widely shared belief that structures with special historic, cultural, or architectural significance enhance the quality of life for all. Not only do these buildings and their workmanship represent the lessons of the past and embody precious features of our heritage, they serve as examples of quality for today. "[Historic] conservation is but one aspect of the much larger problem,  [***639]  basically an environmental one, of enhancing -- or perhaps developing for the first time -- the quality of life for people." 5

New York City, responding to similar concerns and acting  [*109]  pursuant to a New York State enabling Act, 6 adopted its Landmarks Preservation Law in 1965. See N. Y. C. Admin. Code, ch. 8-A, § 205-1.0 et seq. (1976). The city acted from the conviction that "the standing of [New York City] as a world-wide tourist center and world capital of business, culture and government"  [****11]  would be threatened if legislation were not enacted to protect historic landmarks and neighborhoods from precipitate decisions to destroy or fundamentally alter their character. § 205-1.0 (a). The city believed that comprehensive measures to safeguard desirable features of the existing urban fabric would benefit its citizens in a variety of ways: e. g., fostering "civic pride in the beauty and noble accomplishments of the past"; protecting and enhancing "the city's attractions to tourists and visitors"; "[supporting] and [stimulating] business and industry"; "[strengthening] the economy of the city"; and promoting "the use of historic districts, landmarks, interior landmarks and scenic landmarks for the education, pleasure and welfare of the people of the city." § 205-1.0 (b).

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438 U.S. 104 *; 98 S. Ct. 2646 **; 57 L. Ed. 2d 631 ***; 1978 U.S. LEXIS 39 ****; 8 ELR 20528; 11 ERC (BNA) 1801


Subsequent History:  [****1]  Petition For Rehearing Denied October 2, 1978.


Disposition:  42 N. Y. 2d 324, 366 N. E. 2d 1271, affirmed.


landmark, Terminal, Preservation, designation, parcel, zoning, site, just compensation, restrictions, rights, appellants', purposes, properties, regulation, certificate, reasonable return, property owner, structures, ordinance, development rights, Fifth Amendment, zoning law, aesthetic, construct, burdens, Coal, office building, air rights, architectural, destroyed

Business & Corporate Compliance, Real Property Law, Zoning, Historic Preservation, Administrative Law, Judicial Review, General Overview, Ordinances, Constitutional Law, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Rights, Eminent Domain & Takings, Real Property Law, Eminent Domain Proceedings, Inverse Condemnation, Regulatory Takings, Energy & Utilities Law, Federal Oil & Gas Leases, Lease Terms, Assignments & Transfers, Mining, Surface Rights, Mining Industry, Coal Mining, Transportation Law, Air & Space Transportation, Airspace, Easements, Constitutional Limits, Environmental Law, Land Use & Zoning, Comprehensive & General Plans, Civil Rights Law, Contractual Relations & Housing, Fair Housing Rights, Comprehensive Plans, Judicial Review, Environmental Law, Pipelines & Transportation, Eminent Domain Proceedings, Elements, Just Compensation