Press Release

For Immediate Release: June 6, 2024

Contact:, (212) 788-2958

Ahead of Juneteenth, Mayor Adams Announces Creation of Interactive Audio Tour Exploring City's Abolitionist History

‘More Than a Brook: Brooklyn Abolitionist Heritage Walk’ Explores Brooklyn’s Role in National Abolitionist Movement and Underground Railroad Across City Landmarks
Announcements Build on Adams Administration’s Investment Towards Racial Equity and Justice

NEW YORK – Ahead of Juneteenth, New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced the creation of "More Than a Brook: Brooklyn Abolitionist Heritage Walk," an interactive audio tour that explores Brooklyn’s history as a critical neighborhood for the National Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad. The audio tour can be accessed on a smartphone, tablet, or other device through the Landmark Preservation Commission’s (LPC) website. The interactive audio tour was commissioned by LPC and created by Kamau Studios and Black Gotham Experience. This project was supported by a grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and financed in part with federal funds from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

"New Yorkers walk through Brooklyn every day, unaware of the history right under their feet and surrounding them," said Mayor Adams. "This interactive audio tour allows all of us to celebrate the heroes who stood up against injustice, risked their lives, and fought for the freedom they deserved. To build a better future, we must first examine and understand our past. This Juneteenth, our city recommits to reckoning and recognizing our role in the historic fight for racial equity and justice."

"I congratulate the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s collaboration with Kamau Ware Studios and the Black Gotham Experience for shining a light on Brooklyn’s abolitionist heritage, and the city’s role in fighting against slavery," said Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development, and Workforce Maria Torres-Springer. "I also thank New York State’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation for funding this worthy project."

"New York City’s designated landmark sites and historic districts tell our shared story, and Brooklyn is home to an incredible collection of historic landmark buildings that connect us to our past and highlight the central role New Yorkers played in the fight against slavery," said LPC Chair Sarah Carroll. "This immersive audio tour lifts up their stories, honoring the memory of those who suffered and fought for justice and freedom. This Juneteenth is a reminder that the fight for equity is part of our collective heritage as New Yorkers and we must work to create a more just and fairer city for future generations to come." 

"Juneteenth provides us the opportunity to reflect on the wrongs of the past while honoring the resiliency of those that came before us and sacrificed so much," said New York City Chief Equity Officer and New York City Mayor's Office of Equity & Racial Justice Commissioner Sideya Sherman. "We commend the Landmarks Preservation Commission and partners Kamau Ware Studio and the Black Gotham Experience for reconciling our past with our present and showcasing our city’s pivotal role in the national abolitionist movement. Through this interactive heritage walk, New Yorkers can learn from and examine our past while fully immersed in the city we all know and love."

"Our public spaces are where New Yorkers connect — not just with their neighbors and with the great outdoors, but also with our history," said New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Sue Donoghue. "Thanks to this creative collaboration, New Yorkers will discover Brooklyn’s rich abolitionist heritage while experiencing our historic buildings and treasured greenspaces in a brand-new way. With Juneteenth around the corner, this audio tour is an important contribution to our ongoing efforts to uplift Black history and ensure our city is equitable and just for all New Yorkers."

New York City played an important role in the effort to abolish slavery nationwide and assist those seeking to escape it. The neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights, Fulton Ferry, Downtown Brooklyn, and Fort Greene contain a walkable concentration of important historic landmark sites associated with New York City’s abolitionist history, the Underground Railroad, and the larger anti-slavery movement before the Civil War through political and religious activism.

The three-part audio experience guides participants through Brooklyn's rich abolitionist history, incorporating 19 stops and highlighting the many landmark sites along a 4.5-mile walkable path, including the residences of abolitionist Lewis Tappan and Harriet and Thomas Truesdell, and religious spaces, including Plymouth Church, Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, and the Friends Meeting House. The audio tour also introduces important local historic figures in the abolition movement, including businesswoman Elizabeth Gloucester, pioneering sisters Dr. Susan Smith McKinney-Steward and educator Sarah J. Tompkins Garnet, and Plymouth Church preacher Henry Ward Beecher, highlighting all their stories to illuminate the multiple ways people and institutions engaged with the anti-slavery movement before the Civil War and the continued fight for freedom afterward.

The "More Than a Brook: Brooklyn Abolitionist Heritage Walk" reflects LPC’s ongoing commitment to equity and inclusion in all their work as part of the agency’s Equity Framework; its efforts to preserve places that tell the story of all New Yorkers and reflect their collective heritage, making the significant history embodied in landmarks more accessible; and expanding educational outreach efforts to reach new and diverse audiences. Additional resources can be found on LPC’s website, including LPC’s interactive story maps, "New York City and the Path to Freedom," which explores New York City’s abolitionist history across all five boroughs through designated landmarks that embody it and "Preserving Significant Places of Black History," which highlights and explores buildings, sites, and historic districts significant to Black history throughout New York City.

Mayor Adams announced new economic data showing that the unemployment rate for Black New Yorkers has significantly decreased since the start of the administration. Between January 1, 2022, and April 1, 2024, the Black unemployment rate in the five boroughs decreased from 10.7 percent to 7.9 percent — a 26 percent decrease. This marks the first time since 2019 that the Black unemployment rate in New York City has been below 8 percent.

"With Juneteenth upon us, I am proud that we are launching this Heritage Walk to tell the world about New York City’s abolitionist history," said New York State Assemblymember Jenifer Rajkumar. "This interactive walking tour will bring to life the integral role Brooklyn played in the Underground Railroad and the abolitionist movement. People from all over the world will learn what New Yorkers did to stamp out the moral blight of slavery, and Brooklynites will take pride in their neighborhood knowing this rich history. This exemplifies our goal to uplift all communities and share everyone’s history in our Gorgeous Mosaic."

"As we approach Juneteenth, it's essential to remember and honor New York City's pivotal role in the fight against slavery," said New York State Senator James Sanders Jr. "This interactive audio tour highlights the courageous efforts of those who fought for freedom in our nation and is crucial to understanding our past and inspiring our future!"

"Brooklyn has a rich abolitionist history, and the echoes of that fight for freedom and justice can be felt at historic sites around the borough, including at many in the neighborhoods I have the honor to represent," said New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes. "This audio tour is a way to uplift and celebrate this history, and to help New Yorkers learn about the many people and institutions engaged in the fight against the evils of slavery. As we approach Juneteenth, this audio tour is an opportunity to learn from the past while charting a course toward a future of true freedom, liberty and justice for all."

"The abolitionists’ fight for freedom in New York cannot become forgotten history as we continue to tackle discrimination to this day," said New York State Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn. "I applaud Mayor Eric Adams for launching an innovative program highlighting and teaching Brooklyn's history as a crucial launchpad for the National Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad as we keep advancing equality."

"I want to thank Mayor Adams for shedding light on the history of the Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad here in New York City," said Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson. "With this initiative, he is ensuring residents and visitors alike can immerse themselves in our city`s past and our contributions to the fight for racial justice and equity."

"‘More Than a Brook’ brings Brooklyn's rich abolitionist history to broad audiences and offers a glimpse into who we are as a borough and a people," said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. "Oral history is the perfect tradition and vehicle to reckon with the past and honor the ongoing fight for a more equitable future based in racial and social justice. Thank you to Mayor Adams for expanding access to the stories that helped build our city and free our ancestors from slavery."

"I'm thrilled to see the launch of the 'More Than a Brook: Brooklyn Abolitionist Heritage Walk' just in time for Juneteenth," said New York City Councilmember Kamilah Hanks. "This interactive audio tour is a powerful tool that will bring to life Brooklyn's rich history in the National Abolitionist Movement and the Underground Railroad. By making this history accessible on smartphones and tablets, we are ensuring that the stories of those who fought for freedom and justice are preserved and shared with future generations. I commend Mayor Adams, the Landmark Preservation Commission, Kamau Studios, and Black Gotham Experience for their incredible work on this project."

"Downtown Brooklyn and its adjacent neighborhoods are steeped in historical significance, with several landmarks and sites that honor Brooklyn's role in the Abolitionist Movement," said Regina Myer, President, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. "The Abolition Heritage Trail will highlight the people and institutions that were instrumental in the fight for freedom, including the home of abolitionists Harriet and Thomas Truesdell which is located next to the newest park in our neighborhood, Abolitionist Place. We look forward to sharing these stories with the public and preserving an important part of our borough's history."  

"Brooklyn Bridge Park is thrilled to be a stop on the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Brooklyn Abolitionist Heritage Walk and audio tour," said Brooklyn Bridge Park President Eric Landau. "By retracing the steps of abolitionists and amplifying their stories, we not only honor their legacy, but also reaffirm Brooklyn’s commitment to justice and equality. This tour sheds light on Brooklyn Bridge Park's role in a crucial piece of this city’s history and will bring us towards a more compassionate and equitable future."

"More Than A Brook is a walk through Brooklyn that connects historic locations to illustrate a portrait of 19th century communities resisting the institution of slavery. The concentration of characters that walked the docks onto city streets is significant to the history of New York State and the United States," said Black Gotham Experience, founder, Kamau Ware. "It is commendable that the Landmarks Preservation Commission is opening up the layers behind these historic buildings and the liminal spaces between. It has been an honor to work in the community, inspired by the disparate Brooklyn abolitionists that created a rising tide, challenging the presence of slavery in America."

"Congratulations on the launch of this remarkable project," said New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation Daniel Mackay. "More Than a Brook showcases Brooklyn’s abolitionist history through an immersive exploration of local historic landmarks. Bringing this history to life takes creativity, collaboration, and resources — the very ingredients that New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission used to make this audio tour possible. This project is a great example of how certified local government grants through the New York State Historic Preservation Office bring federal funds back into communities each year to support preservation programs and explore history in dynamic and engaging ways."

"For nearly 200 years, New York University has been inextricably tied to New York and its history, said New York University Vice President of Government Relations and Community Engagement Kyle Kimball. "We are proud that Wunsch Hall, formerly the Bridge Street Methodist Church, the first independent Black church in Brooklyn and a stop on the Underground Railroad, is a part of the exciting, new abolitionist heritage walk that the Landmarks Preservation Commission is launching. We congratulate them on this important effort to remind New Yorkers of the vital role our city has played in our nation's history."