Planetizen - Urban Planning News, Jobs, and Education

Preserving Weeksville, The First Community of Free, Black Americans

Three buildings have survived from Weeksville, despite being located in bustling Brooklyn. A $32 million museum and community center will open next summer at the site.
December 2, 2010, 12pm PST | Tim Halbur
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

The site is located along the historic Hunterfly Road, a trading route established by the Dutch over 300 years ago. The surviving houses have been restored to reflect different eras of the community.

From the museum's History page:

"In 1838, just eleven years after the abolition of slavery in New York, James Weeks, a free African American, purchased land on the edge of the settled areas of Brooklyn. This purchase marked the establishment of Weeksville, a village of free African Americans – laborers, laundresses, craftsmen, doctors, entrepreneurs and professionals – who worked and thrived in New York throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. A vibrant and self-sufficient community, Weeksville's residents established schools, an orphanage, an elderly home, churches, benevolent associations, newspapers, and participated in anti-slavery activities."

Fast Company reports that officials wanted the site to be more than a museum:

"New York City regulators wanted the new Weeksville to be current -- to give the area green space and a cultural, artistic hub."

"The center hosts concerts in the yard behind the houses and local children grow organic vegetables in the lot's small garden."

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, December 2, 2010 in Fast Company
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email