Celebrating Black History — Explore Our Past, Advocate to Honor and Protect It

Village Preservation invites you to explore our neighborhoods’ rich African American history, and to join us in advocating to honor and protect significant endangered sites connected to that history. 


Our newly 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 South of Union Square Map contains an African American history tour with nearly 20 sites connected to critical moments, great movements and organizations, and prominent figures in African American history and culture, from the early 20th-century headquarters of the NAACP and The Crisis Magazine, to the studio where Billie Holiday made her very first recordings.

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. 

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.


Our February program calendar includes some exciting Black History Month programs, including the launch of our new Black History in Greenwich Village series, which will continue through the spring, as well as walking tours and lectures. 

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.


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

  • 50 West 13th Street (1846), home in the 19th century of leading African American businessman Jacob Day, who helped lead fights against slavery and for equal voting and civil rights for African Americans. This building has been sold and its fate is unclear.
  • 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. With Steve’s passing, 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.


February 3, 2023