Community Dynamics in Contested Space: Documenting the Legacies of the Fifteenth Ward in Syracuse, NY
From Dana Olesch on April 18th, 2021
The destruction of Syracuse’s Fifteenth Ward persists in the living memory of many residents today. Through my Humanities New York Public Fellowship, I am working to create an interactive online platform designed to analyze, preserve, and disseminate the history of this space. This website will act as both an archive and interpretive tool. Many of the physical and online collections associated with the Fifteenth Ward are spread across the state of New York and over multiple online sites. Public use of these collections is frequently restricted by paywalls, physical distance, and institutional exclusivity. By consolidating and organizing census schedules, newspaper clippings, oral and written histories, security maps, and other relevant datasets on a centralized platform, I hope that activists, community members, and scholars will be empowered and inspired to explore new facets and form new perspectives about the lives and legacies of the former Fifteenth Ward residents. Using GIS mapping technology, I am also working to create a series of interactive maps of the ward that can be used to trace patterns of eviction, segregation, occupational clustering, and other phenomena from the creation of the ward in the 1890s until its destruction in the 1960s. By making the past more accessible, this project works to contribute to ongoing efforts to ensure that mass eviction and systematic razing of lower and middle-income businesses, community spaces, and houses is not repeated.