The cultural survey is an ongoing project of the Village. 

We invite you to identify sites in your neighborhood that reflects the heritage of Great Neck Plaza, using our documentation toolbox.  We ask you to be as complete as possible, and to provide your contact information so that we can work together on this project.


 How to Photograph

Taking Architectural Photographs
Courtesy of Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
Adapted from David Ames’ “A Primer on Architectural Photography and the Photo Documentation of Historic Structures” University of Delaware

The Essential Views
The purpose of photographic documentation of historic structures is to preserve as much visual information about a structure in as few photographs as possible. The photographer must identify the views that reveal the most information about a structure. In looking for that view, you need to think about the attributes of a building: overall shape, size, and major architectural elements such as windows, doors, construction materials, and architectural ornamentation. Photographs often directly indicate construction material [log, masonry, or frame, etc.]. They also suggest certain attributes of the building or its uses. The distribution of doors and windows, for example, can suggest the interior floor plan. A single photograph can include most of these elements.

If you were allowed only one photograph to document a historic structure, what would it be? The best choice would be a perspective showing the front and one side of the building, when taken from a 45 degree angle from the front. When framing the building in the viewfinder, be sure that the entire building is visible including the point where the building meets the ground and without clipping off the peak of the roof or chimney. Although this sounds obvious, beginning photographers are often seduced by buildings and attracted by interesting details such as carpenter cut jigsaw porches, pointed Gothic windows, and Greek Revival columns. Unfortunately, the resulting pictures sometimes fail to record a view showing the entire structure. To avoid this problem, include the surroundings of the building, its site, and landscape context. As the subject of the photograph, the building should occupy about 75 percent of the picture area, leaving the surrounding 25 percent of the frame to show visual information about the context of the building.

The Seven Essential Photographs:

  1. The front and one side
  2. The rear and one side
  3. The front elevation
  4. Environmental view showing the building as part of its street or block
  5. Interior view, showing major features of the building
  6. Major elements of the building, including doors, windows, additions
  7. Details such as materials and hardware

 Measure and Document

Measuring & Documenting Structures & Environment
Excerpted from David A. Taylor’s Documenting Maritime Folklore
(Library of Congress 1982) p39-41and reprinted with permission.

For a thorough documentation of a site, it is necessary to gather a variety of contextual data. These data include information about the history of the landmark and its use in the area, as well as information about the designer(s), builder(s), owner(s), and the uses of, and modification to the site being documented.

Properly executed measured drawings are the most accurate record of a building. Unfortunately, exact scale drawings can be expensive to produce since they often require the services of an architect or draftsman. However, for the purposes of many projects, serviceable drawings can be produced by fieldworkers who do not possess formal training in architecture.

Conduct a preliminary survey. Before measurements activities commence, it is important to decide which buildings should be measured, how much time and personnel can be devoted to the task, and the manner in which the work should be conducted. Since it is essential to understand the structure of a building in order to determine what types of drawings should be made, it is beneficial to make a preliminary survey. Because it is seldom possible to record every detail of a building, the fieldworker must decide.

Record measurements by hand & work partners. This can be efficiently accomplished by three-person teams: two to take measurements and one to record measurements in a field notebook. Two can accurately collect data if one calls out measurements and the other records them. Because it is difficult to measure large surfaces without assistance, single fieldworkers cannot work as efficiently.

Conduct interior measurements (when applicable). In addition to other data noted above, measurements of buildings should be supplemented by interior and exterior photographs, and by inventories of furnishings and sketches of their placement. Artifacts found within the structure or on its property are particularly significant, and they should be fully documented.

Draw features to be measured prior to actual measuring. To ensure that field measurements are properly interpreted when it is time to use them to produce a scale drawing, it is helpful to sketch the feature to be measured in field notes before measuring begins. Then, as measurements are taken, they can be written alongside corresponding aspects of the sketch. Measuring devices employed by fieldworkers include tape measures, folding and straight rulers.

.After preliminary survey and drawings, four types of site drawings can be made:

  • Site Plan. This indicates the building’s relationship to streets or roads, structures, gardens, or other features of the immediate environment.
  • Floor Plan. This records room layout, and locations of doors, windows, stairways, and major features of each relevant level of the building.
  • Location Plan. This locates the property with reference to highways, towns, and natural features.
  • Exterior Elevation. This represents the façade of a building projected on a vertical plane.

To give you an idea of what a professional drawing looks like, visit the Historic American Buildings Survey

 Conducting Interviews

By Jill Breit & Eric Bebernitz
Courtesy of Traditional Arts of Upstate New York

Recording interviews is a lot like driving a car. When you’re learning either activity there’s an overwhelming number of things to be aware of, but once you’re practiced, it seems like second nature. Beginners usually have trouble dividing their attention between the equipment and the narrator or individual being interviewed. To avoid this conflict it is important to become comfortable with your equipment prior to any interview situation. You may want to record yourself or a family member to test the equipment, sound levels, adjusting to background noise, and so forth. Listed below are a few tips for getting started and some advice for producing a good quality recording.

Equipment Checklist. A few items are more important then others. If you are going to record an interview these are the essential items you should bring:

  1. Tape recorder, mini disc reorder, or any other recording device
  2. Extra digital cards, blank tapes, cassettes or mini discs
  3. Microphones, microphone stands, and windscreens (optional)
  4. Headphones or ear piece (optional)
  5. Cables, extension cords, etc
  6. Equipment manual(s)
  7. Extra batteries

Check the recording device to guarantee it is receiving sound. You can test this by plugging in the ear piece or head phones and recording your own voice or simply recording a sound and then playing it back.

Check for distracting background noises. After you set up your recording equipment and conduct a sound check, listen in your ear piece or headphone for any distracting sounds such as: refrigerators, washers, dryers, furnaces, clocks, pets, traffic, lawn mowers, etc. In many cases you can explain the situation and ask politely to change rooms, turn off the distracting appliance, or send the rowdy pet to another room.

Hard surfaces in a room will affect the quality of the sound. In a room with many hard surfaces, such as hardwood floors, the sound on tape echoes a bit. Pad the table and recording equipment by setting them on a towel or bring in pillows or other softening agents. Given different situations, like outdoor interviews, this may be impossible, however repositioning the narrator may help with this problem.

Microphone placement is critical. Listen for the popping sounds. Try positioning the mike a little below the mouth so the person speaks over the top of it instead of directly into it. Listen for other mouth noises, especially dry mouth. Sometimes the narrator just needs to take a drink. Encourage speakers to pause and sip often.

All interviews should have an introduction recorded at the beginning. State who the interviewer is, who the narrator is, the date, the location, and the subject of the interview.

Listen through headphones as the interview proceeds. Your ear hears differently than the recording equipment and the final tape will reflect sound as heard through the microphone.

Keep an eye on your equipment as the interview proceeds to be sure all is working correctly. Check the levels often. It’s a good idea to record the introduction to your interview, then play it back to be sure it recorded properly. Be sure you set the equipment back on “Record” when you resume the interview.

Very soon after completing an interview, make a duplicate copy for safety sake.


Under its historic preservation ordinance the Village has designated the following historic sites in Great Neck Plaza as Village Landmarks:

The Bond Street historic district includes the following properties: In addition the following properties have been designated as individual landmarks: Finally, a number of properties are also listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places:

As designated properties all the sites listed receive protection from serious alterations and demolitions, and are subject to design review by the Village’s Historic Preservation Commission. Property owners are also eligible for federal tax credits providing they meet certain guidelines determined by the National Park Service. For information on the tax credit program visit the National Park Service.

If you are interested in being designated as a Village Landmark please contact the Commission. We will assist you in preparing the application and guide your nomination.