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
George Burke is the restorer of the historic Seguine Mansion on the South Shore of Staten Island, where he has lived and taken care of the property for over four decades.
November 9, 2021
Yonnette Fleming is an urban farmer who manages the Hattie Carthan Community Garden and adjacent community food projects in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. She discusses preservationist Hattie Carthan’s efforts inspire her own.
January 26, 2022
Richard George is the president of the Beachside Bungalow Preservation Association in Far Rockaway, Queens. He stewards a key remnant of the Far Rockaway Bungalow Colony.
February 8, 2021
Christabel Gough is a longtime citizen-monitor of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. She co-founded The Society for the Architecture of the City.
October 13, 2021
Mary Habstritt is the director of the Lilac Preservation Project and founder of the Historic Ships Coalition. She is a longtime advocate for industrial and waterfront preservation.
June 26, 2020
Herrera is a long-time preservationist who has directed preservation at both the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Landmarks Conservancy. He has stewarded preservation and restoration work at small-scale residential sites as well as landmarked locations and historic districts across his long career.
July 21, 2022.
Peggy King Jorde
Peggy King Jorde is a cultural projects consultant and expert on cultural heritage sites including the preservation of African burial grounds in the United States and abroad. She helped lead preservation efforts at the New York African Burial Ground National Monument and Interpretive Center.
May 11, 2021
Robert Kornfeld, Jr.
Robert Kornfeld, Jr. is a principal at Thornton Tomasetti. He was instrumental in preserving key elements at the Ground Zero site in Lower Manhattan.
May 6, 2021
Simeon Bankoff directed the Historic Districts Council for two decades, greatly expanding its reach in all five boroughs and leading campaigns to protect hundreds of individual buildings and historic districts.
August 26, 2022
Carol Clark is a preservationist and expert in preservation planning as a result of working, researching, and teaching in the historic preservation field for nearly fifty years.
July 21, 2022