Today, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) released an interactive story map called Preserving Significant Places of Black History to celebrate New York City’s African American history through designated landmarks and historic districts. For five decades LPC has been recognizing, supporting, and celebrating places of African American cultural and historic significance through designation. This story map highlights landmarks and historic districts that illustrate the experiences and achievements of African Americans through interactive maps, narrative text, images, and multimedia content.
“LPC recognizes the critically important contributions of African Americans and is committed to telling the complete story of New York City’s African American heritage,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll. “With this story map, our goal is to provide greater accessibility to New York City landmarks and historic districts that reflect the contributions and achievements of African Americans, and illustrate that the fight for racial equity and social justice is as relevant today as it has been over the course of the City’s history.”
“LPC’s interactive story map is a valuable tool that will make an incredible wealth of African American history more accessible for all New Yorkers,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “This is the kind of information that should be part of every school curriculum and every New Yorker’s education. I hope that learning about these sites prompts young people to ask their elders more questions and hope they are encouraged to explore the rich history of their own families and neighborhoods.”
“As we celebrate Black History Month and continue to strive for racial equity and social justice, it is important to recognize the history of the Black experience in New York City,” said Deputy Mayor Vicki Been. “Landmarking and designating historic districts are two ways that we honor and amplify the stories and contributions of the past, both good and bad, so we can learn from and build on our collective history. Ensuring that more New Yorkers can access and explore that history is a critical part of the process.”
The African American experience has been central to New York City since its earliest colonial settlement, and the lives, history, and culture of its Black residents and leaders are recognized in landmarks and historic districts throughout the city. While many landmark designations acknowledge the history of segregation and discrimination; they also reflect the achievements and resilience of people, groups, and organizations who faced serious challenges, created opportunities and made significant achievements in social, economic, political, and cultural arenas of New York City and American life.
LPC’s story map is the result of a careful study of places important to African American history that have been designated since the Commission was created in 1965. The interactive story map highlights 75 individual landmarks and 33 historic districts throughout the city, designated in recognition of their associations with New York City’s Black history from before the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement, designated properties where more recent scholarship post-designation has revealed important connections, and historic districts located within historically African American neighborhoods as defined by census records over the past 50 years, totaling over 10,500 buildings and sites. It is not an exhaustive list of all places significant to African American history in New York City, but an educational tool and a living document, which can be updated with additional scholarship about designated buildings, and with future designations of landmarks and historic districts.
The selection of landmarks and historic districts presented in the story map illustrate the experiences and achievements of African Americans, and include homes of significant individuals, such as Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Ralph Bunche, and Shirley Chisholm; institutions, community centers, and cultural venues, such as the Schomburg Collection of African History and Culture, Apollo Theater, and Harlem YMCAs; important sites of the Civil Rights Movement, such as the Headquarters of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, houses associated with 19th century free-Black communities and abolitionists, and historic districts embodying important Black history throughout the city.
Story map users can navigate through landmarks and historic districts across eras and neighborhoods and filter the interactive map to learn about their relationships by historical period, building type, and date of landmark designation. Below the interactive map, users can explore in-depth historical context and information about highlighted designations, organized by the following historical eras: Colonial and Pre-Civil-War-era before 1865, the period of Reconstruction and Post-Reconstruction, between the Civil War and the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance between 1914 and 1945, the Civil Rights Movement, and the late-20th century.
About the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the mayoral agency responsible for protecting and preserving New York City’s architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites. Since its creation in 1965, LPC has granted landmark status to more than 37,000 buildings and sites, including 1,439 individual landmarks, 120 interior landmarks, 11 scenic landmarks, and 151 historic districts and extensions in all five boroughs. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/landmarks and connect with us via www.facebook.com/NYCLandmarks and www.twitter.com/nyclandmarks.