Open House New York took its offerings digital this year, pivoting from the usual in-person visits to the city’s historic sites to more pandemic-friendly offerings like audio walking tours.
But if you’re an armchair history buff who missed the mid-October festivities, you’re in luck: Black Gotham Experience — a multimedia storytelling project that celebrates the African Diaspora’s impact on New York City — has put their Open House New York walking tour of Lower Manhattan online for free. The tour, titled “Before Belonging,” is virtually led by historian and Black Gotham Experience founder Kamau Ware who unspools the story of Lower Manhattan for seven stops along Broadway, starting at Bowling Green and ending at Duane Street.
Ware takes particular care to highlight the role of Indigenous peoples and Black Americans in the city’s earliest history, with an eye for details like the fact that the fence around Bowling Green Park was meant to stop people from defacing a statue of King George III. As Ware notes, “New York had graffiti before democracy in that regard.”