Mapping the NYC landmarks and historic districts related to Black history

February 10, 2021

Screenshot courtesy of NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday released an interactive story map that explores significant buildings, districts, and sites in New York City that are related to Black history and culture. The project highlights 75 individual landmarks and 33 historic districts associated with African American figures and historical events across the five boroughs dating to before the Civil War up to today, from the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan to the East 25th Street Historic District in Flatbush.

The commission put together the story map, Preserving Significant Places of Black History, by studying places that have been designated by the commission since it was first formed in 1965. The map is not meant to be exhaustive, according to LPC, and can be updated with future landmarks.

The interactive map allows users to find landmarks and historic districts by year of significance, the building type (residential, religious, commercial, or community buildings), and the date of designation. The map has a zoom function and links to designation reports on each landmark. The story map provides added context for each historical period and the designations made during that time.

From some of the oldest sites designated, like the African Burial Ground, the Bowne House in Queens, and the Houses on Hunterfly Road (Weeksville) to more recent landmarks like the home of James Baldwin on the Upper West Side and the Staten Island residence of Audre Lorde, the story map provides a comprehensive, if incomplete, look at the city’s wide-ranging Black history.

Not only does the new map coincide with Black History Month, but also aligns with the commission’s new “equity framework” that aims to ensure diversity and inclusion in designations.

“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,” LPC Chair Sarah Carroll said.

“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.”

Explore the Preserving Significant Places of Black History story map here.


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