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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Cynthia Copeland

Historian Cynthia Copeland speaks about the process of rediscovering the history of Seneca Village and the archeological excavation of it’s former site in Central Park.

Interviewed by Liz H. Strong
October 13, 2017
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Sylvia D’Alessandro

Sylvia D’Alessandro, the executive director of the Sandy Ground Historical Society speaks about the history of the Sandy Ground community.

Interviewed by Filip Mazurczak
October 5, 2017
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Carlos “Chino” Garcia

Lifelong community activist on the Lower East Side, Chino Garcia talks about the many forms that his activism in the neighborhood has taken over the years: squatting, creating the first community gardens, experimenting with geodesic domes, and co-founding what would become CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center, a key cultural and organizing center in the once-abandoned P.S. 64.

Interviewed by Leyla Vural
November 13, 2017
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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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Rene Cheatam Hill, Greg Mays, & Olney Marie Ryland

Past presidents of the Addisleigh Park Civic Organization speak about the history of Addisleigh Park and the process of landmarking the neighborhood.

Interviewed by Liz H. Strong
September 16, 2017
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Esther Khaimov

Esther Khaimov speaks about the process to preserve and landmark Congregation Tifereth Israel.

Interviewed by Liz H. Strong
October 16, 2017
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Fearonce La Lande & Elizabeth Slaughter

Fearonce La Lande and Elizabeth Slaughter share the history of Corona-East Elmhurst and speak about the Corona-East Elmhurst Historic Preservation Society.

Interviewed by Liz H. Strong
October 24, 2017
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Anne Maguire & Maxine Wolfe

Anne Maguire and Maxine Wolfe speak about the founding of the Lesbian Avengers, and the Avenger’s protest at the Alice Austen House.

Interviewed by Liz H. Strong
November 5, 2017
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