Mission Possible: Engaging Communities around Preserving Their History

It is perhaps not surprising that those of us who work at the NYC Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) see the value in the services we perform preserving the records of City government and helping communities connect with that material. In a more recent development, many colleagues are extending the agency’s mission into organizations and communities across New York City. The agency is grappling with how to improve accessibility to the Archives and Library holdings, and reaching out to various communities. So it makes sense to look to members of our team for inspiration—people who are engaging with public history and living the mission through their volunteer work and extracurricular pursuits.

The Manhattan Building Plans Project, 1977-2018

On Monday, July 2, 2018, the Municipal Archives began working on a project first envisioned more than 40 years ago—inventorying and re-housing architectural plans for buildings in lower Manhattan. Digitizing selected plans, not envisioned 40 years ago, will be part of the new project. Saved from near destruction in the 1970s, and containing materials spanning more than one hundred years, City archivists are looking forward to discovering long-hidden treasures and preserving this significant historical and cultural collection.

The Dutch & the English, Part 2: A Wall by Any Other Name

In 1653, the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam built a fortification along the northern edge of the town, running from the Hudson River (today's Greenwich Street) to the East River (then lapping at Pearl Street). Eventually the English captured the city, and named the street that ran along that old fortification Wall Street. But what did the Dutch call it?