Main gate showing Richard J. Koke at Castle Clinton, August 2, 1961; Courtesy of David Hirsch

The Oral History Collection documents the experiences and perspectives of New York City preservationists.

By collecting eyewitness accounts and personal impressions of moments in preservation history, the Archive Project aims to create a verifiable record of the movement and ensure that the work of preservationists is not forgotten. These oral histories document those who were directly involved in much of the groundbreaking legislation and grassroots activism of the 20th and 21st centuries. Whenever possible, transcripts, audio recordings, video recordings, photographs, and other supporting documentation of the resulting interviews are made available on this website. If not uploaded on the website, these materials may be available upon request.

If you are interested in becoming involved with our oral history program by sharing your own preservation experiences, acting as an interviewer, or suggesting a potential figure to interview, please contact us.

The views expressed by contributors to this oral history collection do not necessarily reflect the views of the New York Preservation Archive Project. 

Use of Materials: All oral histories made available in this online collection are licensed under Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

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Above: Main gate showing Richard J. Koke at Castle Clinton, August 2, 1961; Courtesy of David Hirsch

The Oral History Collection

Michael Henry Adams

Harlem-based preservationist and writer speaks about the challenges in saving and preserving sites important to African American history and culture.

Interview by Liz H. Strong
June 29, 2017
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Denise Brown-Puryear & Deborah Young

Denise Brown-Puryear and Deborah Young are co-founders of the Crown Heights North Association, and leaders in Brooklyn historic preservation.

Interviewed by Liz H. Strong
August 17, 2015
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Sam Goodman

Sam Goodman discusses the history of the Grand Concourse, politics, and community-led historic preservation in the Bronx.

Interviewed by Liz H. Strong
October 6, 2015
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Ronald Melichar

Harlem preservationist, Ronald Melichar has been active in raising awareness of preservation in Hamilton Heights for nearly four decades.

Interviewed by Leyla Vural
August 4, 2015
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Victor Papa

Lifelong community activist and president of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, Victor Papa, talks about growing up in Two Bridges, how the neighborhood changed over time, and the work of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council to preserve the community’s history and sense of place in the face of gentrification.

Interviewed by Leyla Vural
August 14, 2017
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Yvonne Taylor

Yvonne Taylor speaks about her family history in the Sandy Ground neighborhood and her involvement in the Sandy Ground Historical Society.

Interviewed by Leyla Vural
July 15, 2015
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Robert Thompson

Filmmaker Robert Thompson speaks about the founding of the Weeksville Heritage Society and his broader relationship with African American History.

Interviewed by Liz H. Strong
August 11, 2017
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Mandingo Osceola Tshaka

Lifelong resident of Bayside, Queens, Mandingo Tshaka describes his experiences growing up in the neighborhood and his efforts to have Martin’s Field reclaimed as the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground.

Interviewed by Leyla Vural
July 23, 2015
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