The story map features highlighted landmarks and historic districts but also presents in-depth historical context about the significance of those sites. On February 9, 2021, the Landmarks Preservation Commission released Preserving Significant Places of Black History, an interactive story map that highlights New York City’s African American history through historic districts and designated landmarks.
The interactive story map features 75 individual landmarks and 35 historic districts. The selection illustrates the experiences and achievements of African Americans across New York City’s history. Featured sites include homes of historic figures including Langston Hughes, Shirley Chisholm, James Baldwin and Ralph Bunche; cultural centers and institutions such as the Apollo Theater, Harlem YMCAs, and the Schomburg Collection of African History and Culture; landmarks from the Civil Rights Movement including the Headquarters of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and other buildings and houses associated with 19th century abolitionists and free-Black communities. While the story map is not an exclusive list of historically or culturally significant sites, the story map can be updated to reflect future designations and research.
Users can use the interactive map to explore landmarks and historic districts through narrative text, images and multimedia content. Filters on the interactive map show historical period, building types, and date of designation. Users can look below the map to see more in-depth information. In-depth content is organized in the following eras: Colonia and Pre-Civil War, Civil war to the Harlem Renaissance, the Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance (1914 – 1945) the Civil Rights Movement, and the late 20th century.
Landmarks Chair Sarah Carroll stated, “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. 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.”
First Lady Chirlane McCray stated, “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. 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.”
The story map can be accessed here.
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)