“Black Gotham in/outside the Archive”: City Streets as Archives, The Brooklyn Bridge

While researching Philip White’s life in postbellum New York City, Peterson used city directories to uncover that while White had moved his residence from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn in 1870, his pharmacy remained in its same location in Manhattan until his death in 1891. Peterson wondered why, since he moved his home, White hadn’t also moved his business, either in 1863 in the aftermath of the Draft Riots (which traumatized the black community), or in 1867, when he married Elizabeth Guignon? So she decided to walk the streets where White’s home had once been located—and found the entrance ramp for the Brooklyn Bridge. To build the unsuspended approaches and anchorages leading up to the bridge’s span on the Manhattan side, “this required clearing six blocks between Chatham and Water and Frankfort and Duane Streets…Philip’s drugstore on the corner of Frankfort and Gold was saved, but his home on Vandewater Street was demolished” (311). City directories led to city maps which led to city streets which revealed urban renewal – and a crucial piece of Peterson’s story.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on ““Black Gotham in/outside the Archive”: City Streets as Archives, The Brooklyn Bridge

  1. Kristen

    I second the value of city directories as research sources–they often open more questions! NYHS has them all available (late 1700s-1900s) on a shelf in their reading room.

    Great notes on the lecture for those of us unable to attend!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s