Learn about Brooklyn's abolitionist heritage on this new free audio walking tour

Get to know local landmarks and important historical figures.

Ian Kumamoto
Written by
Ian Kumamoto
Staff Writer
Fulton landing ferry
Photograph: By Christian Mueller / Courtesy of Shutterstock

Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it, which is why it is important for all New Yorkers to dive deep into local Black history—and that's about to get much easier: a new free interactive walking tour in Brooklyn explores the borough's rich abolitionist heritage through specific sites and prominent figures. 

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The self-guided audio tour—created by the Black Gotham Experience and commissioned by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission—mostly concentrates around Brooklyn Heights, Fulton Ferry, Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene, neighborhoods that were home to large free Black communities in the 19th century. 

Broken down to about three separate parts, the tour is narrated by Isa Reyes and Kamau Ware and lasts approximately three hours in total. If you prefer to take it in in doses, you can do that, but make sure to follow the order of the parts for a complete experience (there are a total of 18 stops, 12 of which are historical landmarks). 

Part one of the tour takes you through the years 1820-1828 and starts at Fulton Ferry Landing in DUMBO, where Henry Ward Beecher delivered passionate anti-slavery sermons.

The second part of the tour covers the years between 1828 and 1855, when racial tensions were beginning to grow and the Black rights movement gained more strength. The tour ends with part three, which covers 1855-1920, the post-Civil War period when the borough became the cultural center of Black New York.

The audio tour, which you can find right here, is pretty intuitive to work with. You can zoom in and out of the accompanying interactive map to get a better sense of your surroundings or, perhaps, opt to listen to it from the comfort of your own couch without actually exploring the physical spaces discussed in the project. That would be a waste, though: there's something about seeing the Brooklyn landmarks that adds to the whole experience. 

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