Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Busy Day for Brooklyn's Underground Railroad History

Duffield Street House

Yesterday was a busy day for Brooklyn's Underground Railroad history. Mayor Bloomberg announced via press release that he is committing $2 million for capital and construction of “a project to commemorate abolitionist activity that occurred in Brooklyn in the 1800s.” As you may recall, rowhouses on Duffield Street that the city intends to demolish to make way for underground parking are at the heart of a controversy (and were the subject of an expensive and controversial consultant's study). Advocates say the homes were part of the Underground Railroad. The consultant says there is no hard evidence. Some have suggested memorializing the anti-slavery struggle in Brooklyn in some way.

Duffield Street Underground, a blog set up to oppose the demolition of the buildings writes:
The announcement is certainly a victory for those who want to promote the development of Downtown Brooklyn through the commemoration of the Abolitionist history at 227 Duffield Street and other nearby historic properties. It is a clear recognition by the Mayor that these buildings can provide an important cultural resource to the area.

It remains to be seen whether today's press release is just an excuse to tear down these properties and to build a memorial at some other location. The EDC made this suggestion at the May 1st 2007 public hearing on the historical claims surrounding the Duffield Street homes threatened with destruction by their Downtown Brooklyn plans.
Here are some links to coverage of yesterday's announcement:



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