Celebrate Black History Month and Protect the Rich But Endangered History in Our Neighborhoods

This February, we invite you to explore our neighborhoods’ rich African American history, and to join us in advocating to honor and protect significant historic sites, many of them endangered.

Preserve Our History

Village Preservation is fighting to landmark and protect several sites connected to African American history, particularly civil rights history, in our neighborhood. This includes:

  • 50 West 13th Street (1846) is endangered. The former home of the 13th Street Repertory Theatre, in the 19th century it was also home to leading suffragist, educator, and civil rights leader Sarah Smith Garnet, as well as prominent African American businessman Jacob Day, who helped lead fights against slavery and for equal voting and civil rights for African Americans. The building has been emptied and is dilapidated, and the new owner’s plans are unclear. The City has thus far refused to landmark it; Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who now represents the site due to redistricting, has not yet supported landmark designation. 
  • 285-287 East 3rd Street (1837), a pair of Greek Revival houses that served as home for decades to poet and writer Steve Cannon (1935–2019), called “the keeper of the multicultural flame and flavor of downtown Bohemia” and his “Gathering of the Tribes” cultural center. The future of these buildings remains in doubt.
  • Our proposed South of Union Square Historic District, which contains dozens of unprotected sites connected to African American history, from the studio where some of the first integrated musical recordings were ever made, to the site where The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published, to one of the first integrated hotels in New York, and the home of the National Negro Congress. New York State has recognized the historic significance of these sites, but so far the City has not, leaving them vulnerable to demolition.


Join us for programs

This month we’re staging a number of Black History Month events, including our Black History in Greenwich Village lecture series, Part I (1600-1776) and Part II (1776-1870), and a program about the very first magazine ever for Black children, produced in our neighborhood a century ago by W.E.B. DuBois.

Explore our history

Our expanded and redesigned Civil Rights and Social Justice Map highlights more than 200 sites in Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo connected to important people, events, and movements in civil rights history. This includes more than four dozen connected to African American civil rights, from the first free Black settlement in North America to the sites of the deadly 1863 Draft Riots.

Our Greenwich Village Historic District Map+Tours offers an African American tour with 25 sites in the Greenwich Village Historic District connected to significant African American figures, from some of the first black churches in New York to the home of author Richard Wright.

Our East Village Building Blocks website features an African American history tour with more than two dozen sites connected to prominent figures, locations, and groups in black history, from the home of Charlie “Bird” Parker to the site of the founding of the NYC Chapter of the Black Panthers.

Educate and learn

Connect your school with our Children’s Education program’s incredibly popular African American history curriculum, available for the fourth through eighth grades. It explores everything from the origins of slavery in New York, the struggles for emancipation and civil rights, the vibrant African American cultural movements of the 19th and 20th centuries, and social and cultural issues being debated today.

View more than a dozen videos from Village Preservation exploring and celebrating Black history, from plaque-unveiling ceremonies honoring Lorraine Hansberry, Alex Haley, James Baldwin, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, to tours of African American historic sites in our neighborhoods, to past programs about the Underground Railroad, Black Bohemia, the first black theater in America, and the “Little Africa” neighborhood located in the heart of Greenwich Village.

February 2, 2024