The Upper West Side is often recognized for its many landmarks. In reality while there is a rich architectural history present, there are only 56 individual landmarks among the 300 distinct blocks. St. Michael's shares its block with two of these individual landmarks, the 1932-33 Midtown Theater (now Metro Theater) by architects Boak and Paris and the 1898 New York Free Circulating Library by James B. Lord.
Even with these two individual landmarks, if St. Michael's is designated, it will become only the fourth designated site in a swath of eighteen city blocks- six streets high and three avenues across!
Part of this reality is due to Robert Moses who felled 14 block in near entirety just across the street.
In recent years, Extell Development's Ariel Condo has altered the scale of the neighborhood and applied pressure to real estate values.The changes, noticed long ago spurred development which seemed to have St. Michael's Church complex at its epicenter. Some of that development was self-initiated--the church transferred 70,000 square feet of air rights to the developer of Ariel West and hoped to develop a lot due north of its church which has had some difficulties moving forward.
The Midtown Theater
Better known as the "Metro Theater" this exuberant Art Deco edifice and marquee is a landmark but little else hints at its one-time grandeur. The interior was a "stadium-type auditorium" which was "unified by a band of Modern Classical floral ornament carved in low relief"; today after attempts at turning it into a brew pub, a fitness gym, and 5-screen theater, the interior is a bare shell.