Our Collections

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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Oliver Allen

Retired writer Oliver Allen shares his considerable knowledge about Tribeca’s history and his role in helping to landmark it in the 1980s and '90s.

Interviewed by Peter Reda
March 30, 2010
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Eric Allison

Discussing Eric Allison’s career in advocacy and preservation and how landmark designation can lead to revitalized cities.

Interviewed by Elin Juselius
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Elizabeth Ashby

A tireless advocate for preserving the Upper East Side, Elizabeth Ashby has worked to expand the Upper East Side historic districts and is the co-founder of Defenders of the Historic Upper East Side.

Interviewed by Owen Doherty
March 29, 2012
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Kent Barwick

Former Chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission speaks about landmark and preservation politics during the Koch administration.

Interviewed by Liz McEnaney
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Laurie Beckelman

Former Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Laurie Beckelman, shares her insight into building community relations, raising public awareness of preservation, and several important cases that arose during her tenure.

Interviewed by Liz McEnaney
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John Belle & John Beyer

John Belle and John Beyer speak to their experience restoring and renovating historic buildings and districts.

Interviewed by Tony Robins
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Thom Bess

Bronx native reflects on how education and community involvement aided preservation efforts in the Bronx.

Interviewed by Inna Guzenfeld
October 28, 2008
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Bronson Binger

Preservation, for architect and former New York City Parks Commissioner Bronson Binger, is about saving significant buildings. He was involved with the campaigns to designate Carnegie Hill and the fight to save the "Old" Metropolitan Opera House.

Interviewed by Melissa Brunette
October 17, 2008
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Seymour Boyers

Seymour Boyers describes his time spent on the New York City Council and his role in passing the New York City Landmarks Law.

Interviewed by Anthony C. Wood and Dorothy Miner
October 17, 2006
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