What it takes to preserve a building's Black history

CityLab Daily
Bloomberg

Making histories: The fight to preserve a home in downtown Brooklyn once owned by prominent abolitionists is casting fresh light on the dearth of U.S. landmark designations in Black and low-income communities. In New York City, only 17 of the more than 37,000 sites given landmark status are dedicated to abolitionist or Underground Railroad history; nationally, just 2% of the 95,000 entries in the National Register of Historic Places focus on the experience of Black Americans. 

The absence of physical spaces that commemorate Black Americans is a sign of structural racism in a system that decides which histories are worth memorializing. Efforts to preserve the downtown Brooklyn house began in 2004, when the city tried to use eminent domain to seize it, and now, in response to a developer's attempts to turn the property into a 13-story apartment building, activists are voicing a clear message, contributor Rebecca Bellan reports: "Black Landmarks Matter." Today on CityLab: What It Takes to Preserve a Building Tied to Black History

-Alex Wittenberg

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