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The Insider's Connection

Gentrification

New York City’s Historic Wood Frame Houses

Which houses stand long enough to tell a story? How does a seemingly ordinary structure survive demolition in a gentrifying neighborhood? Two wood-framed houses on East 53rd Street have seen 150 years of New York history. These houses tell the story of a neighborhood, a real estate economy, and a city that continue to evolve and accidentally leave treasures behind. How will these houses be defended as a valuable piece of history, and what do they represent? By 1866, New York City was well-acquainted with the danger and ever-present threat of Great Fires. There’d been at least two fires by this point (1776 and 1835) that ravaged Lower Manhattan; most buildings were constructed from wood at this point, and when one burned to the ground, many others did too. Above 23rd Street, it was rare to see a wood-framed building…

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October 29, 2019

Brooklyn’s Abolitionists on Duffield Street

Can gentrification change–and even erase–history? What kinds of buildings mobilize a community to dispute a city’s attempts at eminent domain? What stories do New York’s streets tell, and who controls those stories? The Fugitive Slave Act had just passed when Harriet and Thomas Truesdell moved into 227 Duffield Street in 1850. This set of laws, passed as an attempt to stop southern secession, incentivized citizens to assist authorities in capturing runaway slaves. It denied runaway slaves the right to trial by jury, and punished free citizens who attempted to aid in their escapes. But stronger restriction was met with stronger resistance. The Underground Railroad–a network of people and safe houses that assisted runaway slaves in their escapes to Northern states and Canada-reached its peak in the 1850s. It was getting increasingly difficult to be an abolitionist, but some of Brooklyn’s…

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September 16, 2019

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