There's no need to sit at home in silence. Let the voices of New Yorkers flood your home and fill that quiet void.
It's always soothing to have a voice to listen to, especially if that voice can teach you something. New York City has a rich history and several institutions across the city, including the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Queens Memory Project, have gathered hours of that history, told by those who lived it.
We've rounded up some oral histories from across the boroughs that you can access any time to help curb any loneliness you might be feeling right now. Tune in and spend some time losing yourself in fascinating stories from the past.
- The Oral History Collection by GVSHP: Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has its own recorded histories from the likes of Penny Arcade, the "Queen of the Underground," and Fred Bass, the late owner of Strand Bookstore.
- A People's History of Harlem by NYPL: People who have lived or worked in Harlem, both longtime residents and more recent ones, share their neighborhood stories, including Alvin Reed, the owner of the Lenox Lounge jazz club, and Angelo Dickey, who grew up playing basketball in the street and witnessed the birth of hip-hop.
- Lower East Side Oral History Project: Hear from artist Jimmy Wright, who moved to NYC in the 1970s and had a studio on the Bowery, and Marvin Marcus, a Jewish resident who lived in the neighborhood when it was home to hardworking immigrant families.
- Voices from East of Bronx Park by NYPL: Hear the histories of the Allerton, Pelham Parkway, Morris Park, and Van Nest neighborhoods by author Arlene Alda who grew up on Barnes Avenue in the 1930s and '40s, Councilman Ritchie Torres and State Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj.
- Remembering Riverdale by NYPL: Longtime residents like Millicent Trachtonberg tell all about what this neighborhood was like before express buses to Manhattan existed and trolley cars would whisk residents to Fordham Road. Don't miss the interview of Roscoe C. Brown Jr., the former president of Bronx Community College and member of the famous Tuskegee Airmen.
- Bronx African American History Project by Fordham University: Hundreds of African Americans in the Bronx have been interviewed about the character of their borough across history, from the 1930s onwards.
- Crown Heights History Project Collection by Brooklyn Historical Society: More than 40 residents share perspectives on the racial tension and discrimination that preceded three days of violence in Crown Heights in 1991. You'll hear about the actions of the police, city government and mass media during the crisis, as well as the forms of reconciliation that happened after.
- Voices of Brooklyn Oral Histories, Arts and Entertainment: Hear from jazz musicians, photographers, authors and artists, who describe the changes they have observed in their neighborhoods over decades.
- Coney Island History Project: Celebrate your love for Coney Island with stories from Steven Feinstein, the owner of Wilensky Hardware, Dennis Thomas, the President of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club and Anne Green, who grew up there during the 1930s and 40s, among many others.
- Hip-Hop in Queens by the Queens Public Library: Learn about the role Queens played in the development of hip-hop from key players like Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, All That Glitters author Antoinette Banks and Ralph McDaniels.
- Long Island City Artists by the Queens Public Library: LIC has been a center of artistic activity. Hear from the artists, movers and shakers behind the rapid and transformative development of the area.
- Memories of Migration by Queens Public Library: Go on a personal journey of moving to Queens with several residents from across the world.
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