The Architecture of Freedom and Place, and the Preservation of Racialized Space in New York City
Edwards, Robert Louis Brandon, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Johnston, Andrew, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Crane, Sheila, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
Sewell, Jessica, Architectural History - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
How do we remember the history of slavery? How do we remember the history of segregation? How do we conceptualize the relationship between race and space? This relationship between race and space is key to understanding the black experience in America.
This thesis examines safe spaces for African Americans during slavery and segregation under the same microscope by looking at the sites, networks, and cultural landscapes associated with the Underground Railroad and The Negro Motorist Green Book.
Through case study based research of the David Ruggles House and the Harlem Y.M.C.A. in New York City, this thesis argues that the history of this country has been preserved and told through the lens of a white spatial imaginary and because of this, black history and the buildings associated with it have not been thoroughly researched and preserved. There is a disproportionate number of preserved buildings associated with black history. There is also a disproportionate number of black people in the professional fields of architectural history and historic preservation. This thesis argues that we need to change this in order to have a more authentic account of the past.
This thesis also argues that we need to change the way that we interpret history and that the historical marker and plaque at landmark sites are simply not enough. It argues that historians, public officials, and preservationists must collaborate with the creative minds of writers, artists, musicians, and activists to come up with new ways to interpret and reinterpret past, present, and future historical sites in order to engage wider demographics. This thesis suggests ways in which we can improve the current practice of historic preservation in order to make the collective memory in this country more inclusive.
MARH (Master of Architectural History)
David Ruggles House, Harlem YMCA, racialized space, invisible network, cultural landscape, historic preservation, architectural history, architecture, African-American, black experience, spatial imaginary, New York City, slavery, segregation, Frederick Douglass, Gordon Parks, Underground Railroad, The Negro Motorist Green Book, abolition, fugitive slave, freedom, racism, material culture, narrative, race and space
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