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-
This oral history project centers preservation stories previously underrepresented in New York City. Participants are leading members of historic preservation campaigns to save sites significant to minority populations, including sites outside of Manhattan.
In 1965, the New York City Landmarks Law was enacted to protect historic sites. Over fifty years later, many challenges to the law have been overcome thanks, in part, to the lawyers interviewed in this project.
These oral histories with past Chairs of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission paint a nuanced portrait of the field. Their unique perspectives offer an inside look on the first 50 years of the City's Landmarks Law.
Preservationists in this oral history collection led the charge to recognize and preserve sites significant to LGBTQ history.
This oral history project, Inspired by Grassroots Stories: Community Architectural Advocacy, led by Kelly Carroll, a preservation consultant and historic preservation instructor at NYU, focuses on those behind community preservation efforts. Discussions focus on victories, losses, and how they rallied their communities.
The Peggy N and Roger G Gerry Charitable Trust Oral History Intensive project is the culmination of two years of work to shed light on the preservation process and the unique perspectives of those who work to preserve a range of settings including Black heritage sites, locations associated with 9/11, historic vessels, and waterfront locations through the city.
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.
June 29, 2017
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.
August 17, 2015
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.
October 13, 2017
Sylvia D’Alessandro, the executive director of the Sandy Ground Historical Society speaks about the history of the Sandy Ground community.
October 5, 2017
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.
November 13, 2017
Sam Goodman discusses the history of the Grand Concourse, politics, and community-led historic preservation in the Bronx.
October 6, 2015
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.
September 16, 2017
Esther Khaimov speaks about the process to preserve and landmark Congregation Tifereth Israel.
October 16, 2017
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.
October 24, 2017
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.
November 5, 2017