Mayor Announces $6 Million Investment to Rehabilitate City’s Newest Landmark

Mayor Adams tours the former Colored School No. 4. The building was designated as the city’s newest landmark. Image Credit: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

On May 23, 2023, Mayor Eric Adams announced a $6 million investment to rehabilitate the former Colored School No. 4, the city’s newest landmark which was designated earlier that day. The school building, located at 128 West 17th Street in Chelsea, is the last remaining school building that exclusively served African American students. For CityLand’s coverage of the Landmarks vote and to learn more about the building’s history, click here

The building is currently owned by the New York City Department of Sanitation. The school closed in 1894 but remained city property. The building was used as a Sanitation satellite office and locker facility from 1936 to 2015. The $6 million investment will help Sanitation stabilize and rehabilitate the building, which was completed in 1850. 

Design work and engineering investigation has begun, and the rehabilitation is expected to be completed in 2027. Sanitation will work with other city agencies and the community to figure out an appropriate long-term use for the building. 

Mayor Eric Adams stated, “As the second Black mayor in New York City history, the significance of this landmark designation is not lost on me, and I am proud we are investing $6 million to rehabilitate (Former) Colored School No. 4 so that this painful, yet important, piece of history is preserved. Historic sites like this are crucial reminders of those who came before us, whose courage and ambition helped shape our city and chart the course to becoming the incredible city we are today. We stand on the shoulders of the young men and women that attended this school, and while they may be gone, I am honored to ensure they will never be forgotten.”

Landmarks Chair Sarah Carroll stated, “(Former) Colored School No. 4 represents a difficult, and often overlooked, period in our city’s history, and in the ongoing pursuit of equity and social justice here in New York City. With today’s vote, LPC reaffirms its commitment to ensuring diversity in its designations as part of our equity framework, and to the importance of preserving the sites that tell the complete, and sometimes challenging, story of our city. I’d like to thank Mayor Adams and DSNY Commissioner Jessica Tisch for their support in ensuring that (Former) Colored School No. 4 will be preserved and protected for future generations.”

Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch stated, “The Department of Sanitation is proud of our role protecting New York City’s neighborhoods, and in this case, that also means protecting a neighborhood’s history. Mayor Adams has made a critical investment in preserving an important piece of Black history in New York City, and ‘New York’s Strongest’ will do our part to make sure that future generations know both about the harm caused at this site and about the resilience of the New Yorkers who resisted it.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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