Embark on an inspiring journey through the vibrant streets of New York City [NYC] as we celebrate the rich tapestry of Black history during this special month. Prepare to be captivated by the remarkable 28 Historical Sites that dot the cityscape. Each holds the echoes of extraordinary stories where influential figures of African descent once thrived.
From bustling neighborhoods to tranquil corners, the five boroughs bear witness to the immense contributions made by Black Americans and people of African Descent throughout the ages.
Join us in paying homage to these trailblazers who have fearlessly paved the way for civil rights and social justice. We present a curated collection of sites that beckon exploration and commemorate their enduring legacy.
Here is our guide to 28 Historical sites in New York City
This guide takes you on a thrilling exploration of recognized and unsung locations. Delve into the stories that shaped the city, uncovering sites adorned with historical plaques and hidden treasures that hold their own remarkable tales, even without official recognition.
Langston Huges House
Langston Huges House
Become enthralled by the fascinating life and enduring legacy of Langston Hughes: a literary luminary and powerful advocate for social change. As a renowned author, poet, playwright, and social activist, Hughes was pivotal in leading the Harlem Renaissance — a flourishing period of African American art and culture. For two eventful decades, he called Harlem home. He was residing on the uppermost floor of a three-story brownstone.
Within those walls, Hughes penned masterpieces that continue to resonate today, including the thought-provoking “I Wonder As I Wander,” the profound “A Pictorial History of the Negro in America,” and the timeless “Black Nativity.” In a testament to his profound impact, Hughes’s former abode was honored in 2019 as one of the 22 distinguished sites to receive a National Trust for Historic Preservation grant through the esteemed African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund.
20 West 127th Street — Harlem
Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church
Step into a realm of vibrant community spirit and invigorating engagement at the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church [LAPC]. Situated in the heart of Brooklyn’s illustrious Fort Greene neighborhood. This dynamic and inclusive church stands as a beacon of hope and unity. With its diverse congregation spanning races and cultures, LAPC embraces the power of togetherness.
Throughout its storied history, this historic church has stood at the forefront of social justice, blazing a trail of progress and compassion. From its inception, LAPC has fostered a legacy of transformative leadership. Offering a sanctuary that serves as a hub for community-driven social justice initiatives and advocacy.
Join in as we celebrate the indomitable spirit of LAPC and its unwavering commitment to uplifting neighbors, embracing the wider community, and profoundly impacting the world.
85 South Oxford Street — Fort Greene
Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture
Embark on a captivating journey through time and explore the remarkable legacy of Harlem’s Schomburg Center. A treasured institution that officially achieved the esteemed status of National Historic Landmark in January 2017. Yet, the rich tapestry of narratives from the Black experience has been lovingly safeguarded within the walls of this public library for nearly a century.
Brace yourself to delve into the depths of history, where untold stories have found a home, waiting to be discovered and celebrated. From preserving cultural heritage to empowering voices long silenced, the Schomburg Center stands as a testament to the enduring power of knowledge and the indomitable spirit of the Black community.
Join in and step into a sanctuary of wisdom, where the past intertwines with the present, forging a path towards a more inclusive and enlightened future.
515 Malcolm X Boulevard — Harlem
Studio Museum in Harlem
Uncover the vibrant origins and exhilarating growth of the Studio Museum, an extraordinary Black cultural institution that emerged from an urgent need for representation and empowerment. In 1968, a passionate collective of local artists and activists fueled by the expanded horizons of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. And united to create a vital platform to uplift emerging artists of color and revolutionize arts education.
As they commemorate their 50th anniversary, the museum embarks on an awe-inspiring journey of expansion, breaking ground on a visionary 82,000-square-foot addition. This groundbreaking endeavor will unfold a tapestry of wonders featuring a captivating rooftop terrace. And a welcoming center, a bustling café, and an abundance of indoor and outdoor spaces for immersive exhibitions, mesmerizing performances, thought-provoking screenings, and transformative educational programs.
Celebrate this remarkable milestone and witness the Studio Museum’s dedication to fostering creativity, representation, and cultural exploration, creating an enduring legacy for future generations.
144 West 125th Street — Harlem
Weeksville Heritage Center
Step back to the extraordinary year of 1838, a mere eleven years after the abolition of slavery in New York. And discover the awe-inspiring birth of Weeksville, a trailblazing haven for freedom. Nestled within the city’s bustling landscape, this pioneering community stood as one of the earliest free Black settlements in America, attracting visionary leaders in the fight against slavery.
Within these resilient streets, the City’s Black abolitionist voices resonated through the pages of their own newspaper, where words of empowerment, sacred prayers, and engaging reading exercises ignited the flame of progress. Today, the captivating legacy of Weeksville is meticulously preserved within the walls of the Weeksville Heritage Center, an extraordinary multidisciplinary museum that transports us to a bygone era.
Immerse yourself in the vibrant tapestry of Brooklyn’s pre-Civil War era as the center artfully reimagines and unravels the untold stories of free Black life, offering a profound glimpse into the struggles, triumphs, and resilience of a community that shaped the course of history.
Join in, and we honor this rich heritage and witness the enduring spirit of Weeksville, an emblem of resilience and a testament to the power of community.
1698 Bergen Street — Weeksville
Addisleigh Park Historic District
Prepare to be transported to the enchanting Addisleigh Park, a historic district nestled within the vibrant St. Albans neighborhood of Queens. And once designed as a segregated haven for white residents. This remarkable enclave experienced a transformative shift in the 1930s when African-American families began to make it their home. Today, Addisleigh Park stands as a beloved African American and Jamaican community, pulsating with a vibrant cultural tapestry that echoes the harmonies of its past.
With Manhattan, the epicenter of the Swing Era, just a stone’s throw away, Addisleigh Park beckoned legendary African-American jazz musicians to its tranquil suburban embrace. Icons such as Fats Waller, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Jackie Robinson, and W.E.B. DuBois found solace and inspiration within its welcoming borders. The echoes of their greatness resonate through the streets, where the original homes they inhabited have been lovingly preserved. Recognizing its profound historical significance, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission bestowed the well-deserved title of a historic district upon Addisleigh Park in 2011.
Join in and step into this living time capsule, where the spirit of jazz is the resilience of a community. And the enduring legacy of prominent African-American figures converges in a harmonious symphony. Explore the hallowed grounds where history and culture intertwine, and immerse yourself in the vibrant essence of Addisleigh Park. This enchanting enclave embodies the triumph of diversity and the power of preserving heritage.
110-40 177th Street — St. Albans
Old Bridge Street Church
Prepare to step into the rich tapestry of history and unveil the captivating story of the Wunsch Student Center Building, nestled within the bustling MetroTech Center in Brooklyn. Revealing its true essence, this remarkable structure was once the revered Brooklyn African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church—an architectural gem crafted in the iconic Greek Revival style in 1847.
It served as the epicenter of an extraordinary three-day celebration on January 2, 1863, to honor Abraham Lincoln’s momentous Emancipation Proclamation. Just a month later, the legendary Frederick Douglass graced its hallowed halls, delivering a stirring speech that fervently encouraged African Americans to join the Union ranks in the Civil War.
A moment of triumph arrived in October 1865 when the indomitable abolitionist Harriet Tubman took the stage, mesmerizing a massive crowd with her unwavering spirit. During this momentous time, an extraordinary 18-year-old organist named Susan Smith McKinney made her mark, later becoming the first black female medical doctor in New York State.
Beyond its historical significance, the church also served as a sanctuary for fleeing slaves during the tumultuous era of the Civil War and provided refuge for black individuals escaping the harrowing Draft Riots of 1863. As the first black congregation in Brooklyn under the AWME, its impact reverberated through the community.
After the AWME relocated a few miles east to Stuyvesant Avenue, the building transformed, housing a postcard factory for several decades. However, the winds of change blew anew in the 1990s when MetroTech embraced the building, breathing new life into its timeworn walls through meticulous restoration.
Join in and traverse the corridors of time, immersing ourselves in the remarkable journey of the Wunsch Student Center Building. Witness its profound transformation from a place of worship to a witness of pivotal historical moments, and marvel at the resilience of a building that continues to stand as a testament to the indomitable spirit of a community and the power of preservation.
Prepare to be transported to a legendary venue steeped in a captivating history that spans over a century. In 1914, as the curtains rose on Hurtig & Seamon’s New Theater, a regrettable era began, with Black performers and patrons unjustly barred from its doors. However, destiny had a different plan for this hallowed space. A remarkable transformation occurred two decades later, as the theater emerged as a haven. It embraced and nurtured some of American history’s most excellent Black musicians.
Witness the birthplace of legends as the renowned Apollo stage became a springboard to stardom for iconic names such as James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sammy Davis Jr. Within these walls, their talents blossomed, setting ablaze the trajectory of their illustrious careers. Today, the Apollo Theater is a testament to resilience, showcasing a dynamic blend of virtual and live concerts, where melodies from diverse genres grace the stage and captivate audiences.
But the Apollo’s soul truly shines through its signature Amateur Night, a cherished tradition that has provided countless aspiring artists a platform to showcase their talents and make their dreams come true. This electrifying event invites performers to seize the spotlight and compete for the adoration of an enthusiastic audience, symbolizing the Apollo’s enduring commitment to nurturing emerging voices and celebrating the richness of talent within the community.
Embark on a journey through time, immersing yourselves in the extraordinary legacy of the Apollo Theater, from its troubling beginnings to its triumphant transformation. This iconic venue stands as a beacon of artistic excellence, a testament to the power of inclusivity. It is a living testament to the transformative power of music. Get ready to experience the magic that has resonated through its halls for generations. Celebrate the timeless allure of the Apollo and its unwavering commitment to shaping the cultural landscape.
253 West 125th Street — Harlem
Prepare to step onto the hallowed grounds where history and baseball intertwine as we revisit the glory days of Ebbets Field — the beloved home of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Though modest in size by today’s standards, with a capacity of only 35,000 seats, this iconic stadium was a sanctuary for passionate fans who eagerly lined up to witness the triumph of the 1955 World Series-winning Dodgers. Yet, it was not just championships that etched Ebbets Field into the annals of cultural significance.
Within these hallowed walls, a groundbreaking moment unfolded that would forever change the game. Here, Jackie Robinson, a trailblazing athlete of extraordinary courage, shattered the color barrier, signing with the Dodgers and becoming the first black player to grace the major leagues. This pivotal moment marked a seismic shift in the world of sports, paving the way for future generations of talent to rise and shine.
Although Ebbets Field met a heartbreaking fate, being demolished in 1967, its spirit lives on in the hearts and memories of baseball enthusiasts. Today, a complex known as the Ebbets Field Apartments occupies the once-hallowed site, a reminder of the vibrant history that unfolded within its storied confines.
Join in and pay homage to this legendary stadium, celebrating its legacy of courage and triumph. And the enduring spirit of Jackie Robinson is forever embedded in the fabric of the game we love.
1700 Bedford Avenue — Crown Heights
Louis Armstrong House Museum
Prepare to embark on a journey into the vibrant world of one of music’s most iconic figures as we delve into the captivating story of Louis Armstrong and his cherished home in the humble neighborhood of Corona, Queens. In 1943, at the height of his global fame, Armstrong and his wife, Lucille, found solace and inspiration within the walls of their unassuming residence. Today, this historic house stands as a testament to their remarkable legacy. It has been transformed into an interactive museum that invites visitors to step into the life and times of the legendary trumpeter.
Unlock the doors of this immersive sanctuary as you embark on an in-person tour, traversing the rooms that once resonated with Armstrong’s incredible talent and boundless spirit. Delve into the immersive virtual programs and exhibits that bring his story to life, including the captivating Cultural After School Adventure. This tribute pays homage to his unparalleled musical contributions.
But the story does not end there. The future promises a thrilling new chapter as a brand-new cultural center prepares to grace the streets of Corona. Set to open its doors in the spring of 2022. This vibrant hub serves as a base for captivating exhibitions and awe-inspiring performances. And an array of immersive experiences, ensuring that Armstrong’s enduring legacy continues to inspire and uplift future generations.
Pay homage to the man whose music transcended boundaries and touched the hearts of millions. Traverse the past, present, and future of Louis Armstrong’s legacy. Immersing yourself in the captivating museum and anticipating the vibrant cultural center that eagerly awaits, poised to celebrate the indelible mark left by this musical maestro.
34-56 107th Street — Corona
900 Prospect Place — Crown Heights
At Brower Park in Crown Heights, a commemorative plaque acknowledges the life and achievements of Shirley Chisholm, a tireless champion for equal rights. In 1968, Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress (representing New York’s 12th congressional district for seven terms). And in 1972, she was the first Black woman to make the bid for the US presidency. A proud Brooklynite, Chisholm remained dedicated to serving the community throughout her career. Farther east in the borough, bike-friendly Shirley Chisholm State Park also honors the pioneer.
In Lower Manhattan on Duane Street, a six-acre memorial acknowledges the role slavery played in building New York City. The new plot is the largest unearthed burial ground in North America for free and enslaved African descendants. In 1991, a construction crew discovered 419 graves while laying the foundation for a new federal building. Today, screenings, tours, and talks are hosted on the sacred grounds.
290 Broadway — Lower Manhattan
Jackie Robinson House
Jackie Robinson House, the home of baseball great Jackie Robinson from 1947 to 1949. The house was constructed around 1912 to 1916, and Robinson would later move to a home in Addisleigh Park, Queens from 1949 to 1955. Robinson was the first African American to play in the MLB, starting at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. At the time, Black baseball players would be relegated to the Negro leagues, yet Robinson would win the Rookie of the Year Award while a resident of the East Flatbush residence. Robinson would win the National League MVP Award in 1949 and be an All-Star for six consecutive seasons.
His uniform number 42 was retired in 1997 across all major league teams. The Jackie Robinson Museum at 75 Varick Street in lower Manhattan was initially scheduled to open this year.
5224 Tilden Avenue — Flatbush
Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial, Educational And Cultural Center
This landmarked Washington Heights building has been a fixture in the community for decades. Today, 3940 Broadway is an educational and cultural center dedicated to the legacy of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz. Back in the day, it was known as the Audubon Ballroom, a theater, dance hall, and weekly meeting locale for the Organization of Afro-American Unity, founded by Malcolm X. It was here, too, that the activist was assassinated while giving a speech in 1965.
3940 Broadway —
Throop Theater — The Apollo Theater of Brooklyn
The 600-seat Throop Theater was opened by 1914. In 1925 it was enlarged and renamed Apollo Theater, reopening on August 24, 1925. It was equipped with a Wurlitzer 2 manual seven rank organ. The Island Circuit operated the Apollo Theater. It was closed in 1965.
1531 Fulton Street —
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
A fixture in NYC since its founding in 1969, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater transcends racial and ethnic groups. Initially, the company comprised young Black modern dancers and was known for classic masterpieces like Revelations. But as the company evolved, so did its mission. Today, the Ailey School has united patrons from across the globe through classes, programs, and performances that preserve the uniqueness of the Black cultural experience.
405 West 55th Street —
Fulton Ferry Landing
The landing was an entryway via boat into Brooklyn Heights for ships leaving the Mid-Atlantic region with escaped slaves. Upon arrival at Fulton Ferry, escapees could receive the cover and various forms of aid in areas of Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights, and other areas in and around Downtown Brooklyn. The Fulton Ferry District is on the National Register of Historic Places. And comprises the ferry landing plus 15 nearby buildings that date back to 1830. Among the area’s associations with the movement for freedom is that it held the (now-demolished) site for the first Brooklyn school for free Blacks.
Old Fulton Street — Brooklyn Bridge Park
Though it’s now one of the city’s best brunch spots, Minton’s in Harlem once was a vibrant jazz club and the birthplace of bebop. Minton’s Playhouse, as it was known, was founded by the first black delegate of the American Federation of Musicians, Henry Minton. Virtually every legendary jazz player—Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, you get the idea—played there at some point in its heyday. Even as a restaurant, Minton’s has preserved its legacy as the birthplace of the jazz boom and features a menu inspired by African American culture.
206 West 118th Street —
Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
Casually known as “Mother Zion,” this Harlem church was founded in 1796 and was New York City’s first African American church. During the 1930s, the church attracted elite black scholars, entertainers, and civil rights activists. Joe Louis, Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, and Madame C.J. Walker are just a handful of the many notable figures who attended sermons at Mother Zion.
It is located in a recreational complex in Queens’ Roy Wilkins Park. The venue’s commitment to inspire the next generation of directors, performers, and playwrights through its enriching youth and after-school programs.
The theater also hosts stage productions, film screenings, and other performing arts that bring awareness to issues of African American, Caribbean American, and African Latino communities.
177th Street & Baisley Blvd — Jamaica
Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute
This multidisciplinary organization is dedicated to presenting and preserving the diverse cultures of the global African diaspora. The center carries out its mission through public art exhibitions, performances, educational programs, workshops, conferences, and international exchanges. Their landmarked building has three art galleries and puts on vibrant programming year-round. Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, A Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One, and Oshun are among the artists who have been featured here.
120 E. 125th Street — Harlem
Honors the African diaspora through visual and performing arts. For 20 years, the creative space has showcased influential works from artists like Jamel Shabazz and Wangechi Mutu, who explore themes relevant to Black communities in NYC and across the globe. For instance, David McDuffie’s rousing black-and-white travel gallery. The Chicago native’s fascinating shots capture subjects in portraits and candids that evoke Black joy.
80 Hanson Place — Fort Greene
Sandy Ground is the oldest occupied African American settlement in the country. Founded in the early 19th century by free Blacks from New York, Maryland, and Delaware, the community was a significant stop on the Underground Railroad. Back then. Sandy Ground flourished by harvesting oysters and farming. Today, the neighborhood is home to 10 Black families descendants of the original settlers and a museum that preserves the area’s history through exhibitions, art, photography, and cultural events.
1538 Woodrow Road — Rossville [Staten Island]
Feminist, poet, and internationally acclaimed civil rights activist Audre Lorde left Harlem in 1972 for this charming Staten Island abode. With its vast garden and proximity to the water, 207 St. Paul’s Avenue fulfilled both Lorde’s desire to be immersed in nature and her commitment to raising her children in NYC. She authored groundbreaking work (From a Land Where Other People Live, Coal and The Black Unicorn) while living here with her partner, Frances Clayton, until 1987. The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the house a landmark in 2019.
207 St. Paul’s Avenue — Tompkinsville [Staten Island]
This monument at the northwest corner of Central Park honors the illustrious legacy of Frederick Douglass, an orator, writer, and leader in the abolitionist movement, which fought to end slavery in America. The statue features a paving pattern influenced by traditional African American quilt designs amid historical details and notable quotes. It opened to the public in 2010.
110th Street + Central Park West — Harlem
In 2014, after discovering a black-and-white photograph captured at the turn of the 20th century, a group of teachers, students, and historians uncovered a lost slave burial ground at Drake Park in the Bronx. On the front of the photo, deteriorating gravestones sit in a patch of grass; on the back, “Slave burying ground Hunts Point Road” is written in cursive. There are 10 to 40 enslaved African descendants buried at this ancestral site.
Oak Point Avenue [Bet. Hunts Point Ave. & Longfellow Ave.] — Bronx
National Black Theater
Mission to “produce transformational theatrical experiences that enhance the African American cultural identity by telling authentic stories of the Black experience,” the National Black Theater has long been a Harlem mainstay. Established in 1968 by Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, the venue offers performances, lectures, and a variety of classes that continue to advance the vision of its founder.
2031 Fifth Avenue — Harlem
The Dyckman Farmhouse is Manhattan’s oldest remaining farmhouse, built around 1785 in the Dutch Colonial style. The home is situated in a small park in Inwood on the corner of Broadway and 204th Street, and today it serves as a New York City Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. William Dyckman, who constructed the home, died just three years after completing the farmhouse. Yet, his son Jacobus would later inherit the house along with his wife Hannah, his eleven children, and several slaves and free blacks. Today, Inwood is home to a forgotten slave cemetery believed to have the remains of a number of the Dyckman family’s slaves.
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