About Kerri

Kerri, an enthusiastic public historian and native San Franciscan, is Historypin's Project Officer for Year of the Bay.

Announcing California Pride: Mapping LGBTQ Histories

The California Pride project page on Historypin

Today we are excited to launch our newest project California Pride: Mapping LGBTQ Historiesan online archive of memories, stories, and images related to sites throughout the state of California associated with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) experiences.

Supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the California Preservation Foundation, and led by architectural and public historians Shayne Watson and Donna Graves respectively, this project aims to identify and interpret historic places associated with LGBTQ history in California. This also includes information about sites important to LGBTQ communities of color, transgender people, the bisexual community, and other under-documented groups within the LGBTQ communities. In a wider context, this project builds on recent studies in San Francisco and Los Angeles that document the critical role California has played in LGBTQ history in the United States.

Jewel Thais-Williams posing inside of Jewel's Catch One in Los Angeles, California. Thais-Williams founded the nightclub in 1973, and not only was it one of the first African American discos in the country, but it was also one of the few places in LA where LGBTQ African Americans felt welcome in the midst of widespread discrimination. Photo by Katie Falkenberg, pinned to California Pride by Shayne Watson.

Explore and upload material online

LGBTQ history is best told by the people who have lived it—you can help this project reflect on the diverse places that tell the stories of the LGBTQ community in the Golden State. Visit the California Pride project on Historypin here, and click the button below or in the project to contribute to the digital archive.

If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you, just email Kerri at kerri.young@historypin.org.

Launching Our New Panama-Pacific International Exposition Project

Aerial view of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition from the Aeroscope, pinned to our new project by the Anne T. Kent California Room at the Marin County Free Library.

On Saturday, February 21st, Kerri, Jon, and our new intern Krissia participated in a Community Day at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) and to launch our brand-new new project Mapping the PPIE. This world’s fair in the City By the Bay saw almost 19 million people visit over the course of its ten-month lifespan, all celebrating the resilience and rebuilding of a city destroyed in the famous 1906 earthquake and fire. Historypin is one of around 50 core partners helping our friends at the California Historical Society (CHS) celebrate this centennial, and together over the course of this year we will collaborate on many events and celebrations around the Bay Area.

A screenshot of the map within our new PPIE project, where users can pin photos accurately to their corresponding building/pavilion locations in 1915. Thus, while the Palace of Fine Arts remains the only building on the former grounds left (center), this project will help re-envision the area a century ago.

Mapping the PPIE on Historypin is a place for community partners and individuals with personal and archival collections to pin and curate memories and images of the fair. As an exciting feature, our team did some great work on geo-rectifying a map of the PPIE exposition grounds onto Google Maps, so that those who contribute to the project can do so with unprecedented accuracy and help those exploring the project get a sense of the size and scope of the 1915 event. We were able to share this new project on Historypin at Community Day-over 7,000 people showed up to the Palace of Fine Arts- and over the course of the day had fun talking and swapping PPIE stories with a steady stream of visitors.

Community Officer Kerri and new Historypin intern Krissia at the Historypin table at the PPIE Community Day, February 21st, 2015.

Evanna Lynn Dunlop, a 3rd generation San Franciscan, stopped by our table and shared her original 1915 postcard book from the fair passed down from her grandparents. We had fun talking about the massive changes the city has seen since then, and hope to help her pin these photos to our project.

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on Community Day, lit as it was a century ago at the Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915. Built for the fair, it is the only one remaining on the exposition grounds today.

We look forward to getting as much PPIE content into our project as possible over the course of the year, and bringing together your collections to recreate 1915. If you have any questions about the project or about contributing content, please contact Kerri at kerri.young@historypin.org. To see how you can explore the project, check out this video:

 

Uncovering Mississippi’s Hidden History

The Biloxi Wade-ins, April 1960. Pinned by Elaine Marsh to Uncovering Mississippi's Hidden History.

Uncovering Mississippi’s Hidden History, one of our newest projects on Historypin, has been created by educators and is designed to help students, fellow educators, and the general public learn about and teach local Mississippi history. Largely focusing on (but not limited to) Civil Rights history, this project has been developed by Teaching for Change, a national non-profit organization that coordinates programs encouraging teachers, students, and parents to build a more equitable, multicultural society through education. We asked Julian Hipkins III, Curriculum Specialist and Mississippi Teacher Fellowship Project Director, and Deborah Menkart, Executive Director, to speak briefly about the driving forces behind Uncovering Mississippi:

What do you hope to achieve with this project, in a nutshell? Why is telling history from the bottom-up so important?

Mississippi has centuries of stories of oppression and resistance which could be used to introduce young people to a deep understanding of race, class, power, politics, civic engagement, the environment, economics, culture, and more in U.S. history. However, Mississippi history is too often presented to students as a series of names and dates about people who have no connection to their lives.

It is our hope that Historypin will encourage young people to research, document, and share the stories of the state’s untold history. In addition, by examining history from the bottom-up, students can understand that anyone can impact history. 

We were inspired to pursue the partnership with Historypin after hearing from young people about the power of uncovering their local history. Working with a local history project in McComb, Mississippi, students said:

 “I used to think my town was small and unimportant, now I’m proud of where I’m from,”

 “I learned I can make history by what I do in life,”

 “I feel more strongly about exercising my right to vote.”

Through the historypins, young people can recognize the powerful stories in their community and state history ­­and make history themselves. 

What is an example of the kinds of activities teachers and other educators will run over the platform?

Teachers and other educators will be using the website to engage their students in uncovering and documenting untold history. For example, during any period of history they are studying, students could document and pin local history examples (gravestones of soldiers during study of WWII; churches burned and/or schools integrated during study of the Civil Rights Movement; farms established during the New Deal; locations for protests during labor and the long Civil Rights Movement).

Teachers may also have students look for related sites throughout the state and connect with teachers, students, or classes to compare notes (or even compete!). 

These stories can be used by teachers and students to develop reading, writing, and critical thinking skills; civic engagement; and improve personal racial identity and race relations.

Teaching for Change will be working with teachers throughout Mississippi on the project. If you have questions about the project, please contact Kerri Young at Historypin or Julian Hipkins III at Teaching for Change.

The project page on Historypin.

You can start exploring the project and add your own content here.

Recap: Historypin’s Homefront 1945 Event with the US National Archives

Attendees enjoying the film program at our Homefront 1945 event on November 8, 2014.

We would like to present some scenes from our successful Homefront 1945 event at the Rio Theater in Northern California on November 8th, 2014, part of our collaboration with the US National Archives to help share and reuse their diverse audiovisual records of World War I and World War II.

This is designed to be a replicable event that you could do at your own theater or local history museum either with a Hollywood blockbuster like Fury or Unbroken, a classic movie, or your own content. The National Archives and Historypin can provide programming ideas and guidelines as well as copies of the historical films and posters you see here. If you’re interested, please contact Kerri Young for more information.

The special movie event let us share some of NARA’s special content with audiences in the San Francisco Bay Area. Fury, starring Brad Pitt as a tank commander nearing the dangerous final days of fighting in Germany during World War II, acted as the centerpiece to a full program of time-traveling back to WWII, held at the 1940′s Quonset hut Rio Theater and Cafe.

The evening featured digitally restored WWII NARA films, including The True Glory, in the background during a vintage dinner that featured modern takes on wartime foods. Attendees from all over the Bay Area spent about an hour listening to and sharing stories of what it was like in the area during those days. In-between stories, Historypin’s Jon Voss helped to raffle-off reproductions of vintage posters and DVDs from NARA, and Fury posters from Sony Entertainment. Before the film screening itself, the modern movie trailers were replaced with a cartoon, featurette and newly-digitized newsreels from April 1945 that would have been played in theaters at that time, all from the holdings of the National Archives.

The Rio Theater where we held our event, a few hours north of San Francisco.

Specially-designed posters for our event, posted over an official Fury poster.

Enjoying a modern take on wartime foods with a special menu from the Theater.

Hearing stories of what the homefront in Bay was like during World War II.

Raffling-off wartime-era posters from NARA's archives. Raffle tickets were included in reproductions of ration booklets from WWII, which each attendee received.

This event was hopefully the first of many in the kind of experiential learning we want to engage audiences with for our wartime films campaign, and provided just a small sampling of the audiovisual materials from World War I and World War II that we hope to connect with as wide an audience as possible.

On behalf of the National Archives and Historypin, we’d like to thank the California Historical Society for their co-promotions and the Russian River Historical Society for connecting us with an amazing lineup of storytellers who shared their history on the river, from fighter jet fly-unders of the Guerneville bridge to stories of the Japanese American residents of area before and after their forced imprisonment.

New Project: The Wartime Films with the US National Archives

Our visit exploring the US National Archives' film preservation lab, whose team we will be working with over the coming months.

We are very excited to announce a new partnership that we’ll be embarking upon with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), based in Maryland and Washington D.C. The Archives preserve and provide access to the U.S. Government’s collection of documents recording the important events in American history, with their archival holdings numbering more than 10 billion pages of unique documents.

Specifically, we’ll be inviting the public to participate, collaborate, and engage with the archives’ extensive collection of both World War I and World War II moving images. Taking advantage of the public domain status of this newly digitized and expertly preserved content, we’ll encourage the widest possible distribution and discovery of this wartime media across a variety of community networks, as well as existing networks of NARA and Historypin.

War Department film made during WWII detailing the importance of film for training, morale, and entertainment purposes. This is just an example of the vast war film holdings at NARA, accessed on their YouTube Channel.

Context is key, and we will work closely with NARA specialists to show the many sides of the American and international experience of both global conflicts, as well as stories from the homefront. Across Historypin and other interactive platforms, our overall aim is to build a wide-reaching and engaged community around this rich content, while aiding in NARA’s continued mission to provide free and open access to America’s cultural heritage.

Over the past few months, we have worked on identifying key target audiences that have engaged with NARA content or might find it valuable, as well as those with plans to run commemoration events around upcoming WWI and WWII anniversaries. This is the first step on our journey to help more people access NARA’s vast and valuable holdings.

Everyone loves a good open access metaphor: Me trying to gain access to the National Archives building in Washington D.C. through the original main entrance, June 2014.

Year of the Bay: A Trip Down Market Street (1906)

For those of you who have not seen the short film “A Trip Down Market Street,” we’d like to share this fascinating bit of time travel into San Francisco’s past. For those of you have, well, this insight into every day life in a pre-1906 quake city never really gets old.

The film depicts Market Street in San Francisco, with the Miles Brothers’ camera crew carrying the scene from their studio at 1139 Market Street (between 8th and 9th St.) all the way to the Ferry Building on the San Francisco Bay. Men and ladies in hats, horses and carts, streetcars, and automobiles all share a busy thoroughfare where traffic laws are a thing of the future. Rick Prelinger, film archivist and historian, owns the sharpest copies of the film, and because of this we are able to see 1906 with stunning clarity.

A still-frame from the film demonstrating the hustle and bustle of people, cars, and carts sharing the street.

But the film was not always thought to depict 1906. Over the past few years this film has gained much media attention, thanks in part to some detective work from silent film historian David Kiehn. The Library of Congress originally dated the film to 1905, but Kiehn thought otherwise and did some extensive research into the matter. Inspecting every detail, he used the presence of puddles in the film as a bid to look up weather information around 1905, and used the position of the sun among other things to eventually date the film to sometime around late 1905 to early 1906. More research using microfilms at the San Francisco Public Library, license plate research, and much more, eventually led to him confirming the film date as on or around April 12, days before the big quake.

More compelling is that the devastation on April 18, 1906 would have incinerated this film as well, had the Miles Brothers not shipped the footage off to New York only a day earlier. The film now has even more significance in how it captures a calm before the storm, a scene of every day life before the city would change forever.

We’ve pinned this film to our Year of the Bay project and overlaid it onto Street View, so you can compare then and now. We are excited to add this fascinating bit of city and film history to our Year of the Bay archive on Historypin. View the film on Historypin and share your thoughts on this piece of time travel.

"A Trip Down Market Street" overlaid onto Google Street View on Historypin.

Year of the Bay: Inner Sunset Photos and Mysteries from the San Francisco Public Library

800 Irving St., 1949. From the History Room at the San Francisco Public Library.

This week our friends at the San Francisco Public Library contributed another great set of neighborhood photos to our Year of the Bay archive, featuring the Inner Sunset District. Those familiar with this area, developed after 1887 by real estate investors (prior to this the area was all sand dunes), know very well that the “Sunset District” has little to do with sunshine and all to do with that famous San Francisco fog. Today, in a rapidly developing city, the area still manages to retain the feeling of a small town, with plenty of mom-and-pop diners, drug stores, and grocery stores.

The San Francisco Public Library’s photo set of the Inner Sunset captures these kinds of small businesses that make the area so beloved by locals, mostly during the period between 1946-1952.

Billing's Dime Store near 10th and Irving, c.1946-52.

Most of the Inner Sunset photos have been Street Viewed as well, and you can view these by clicking on the "Street View" tab of the pin's dialog box.

Some of the SFPL's Inner Sunset photographs as date mysteries. Login to your free Historypin account, and press the "Solve" button next to the photo you'd like to make a guess at.

Many of these photos still need exact dates, and we’d love for you to leave your comments and suggestions to the photos in our Mysteries section of the project. Here are some quick tips for adding your guesses to these Inner Sunset mysteries:

  1. Go to yearofthebay.org and at the top right, log in with your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. If you don’t have a Historypin account, create one for free!
  2. Back at www.yearofthebay.org, hit the “Mysteries” tab (default tab is “Map”).
  3. On the left side, select Show me: Unsolved mysteries (also the default), and scroll down the list of Inner Sunset mysteries (among others). If you want to see mysteries that other people have already commented on, tick Show Me: Under investigation on the left bar.
  4. Choose a photo from the list you want to help solve, and press Solve.
  5. The interface will prompt you to enter a new date. Once you make your suggestion, you will be able to enter in why you’ve made the choice you have.
  6. That’s it!  Because this is a beta tool (which is to say we’re still working on it to make it better), if anything weird happens, feel free to comment on this blog post, or fill out this easy form to let us know what happened.

If you don’t want to help solve mysteries, we’d still love to see your comments! Explore all of the SFPL’s recent Inner Sunset photos in our project on Historypin, and all of the library’s photos to date on their profile.

 

Year of the Bay: Help Add Information to These Mid-Market Photographs From the San Francisco Public Library

The Mid-Market neighborhood of San Francisco, featuring the now demolished Granada Theater, 1922. From The San Francisco Public Library

Today The Bold Italic published another wonderful photo essay featuring Year of the Bay pins from our friends at the San Francisco Public Library, part of our monthly collaboration with the popular local San Francisco magazine to feature photographs of the city’s neightborhoods. This month feature’s San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood, at the heard of the city’s downtown.

The Mid-Market neighborhood, also called Central Market, encompasses parts of the city’s Tenderloin, South of Market (SoMa), and Civic Center districts. Completely leveled after San Francisco’s devastating 1906 earthquake and fire, the area has since been known for its gritty and colorful character, and as the subject of many redevelopment plans and battles against gentrification. The wonderful photos from San Francisco Public Library show Mid-Market’s transformation over the last half of the 20th century, with the presence of now long-gone department stores, theaters, and shops.

The Regal Theater at 1046 Market St. Pinned by the SFPL to Year of the Bay.

We’ve mapped out these photos, and the SFPL asks that you help overlay them onto their modern-day locations and leave comments using our mystery-solving tools. Here are some quick tips:

  1. Go to yearofthebay.org and at the top right, log in with your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. If you don’t have a Historypin account, create one for free!
  2. Back at www.yearofthebay.org, scroll down until you see the Mysteries Tab (default).
  3. On the left side, select Show me: Unsolved mysteries (also the default), and scroll down the list of Mid-Market mysteries (among others). If you want to see mysteries that other people have already commented on, tick Show Me: Under investigation on the left bar.
  4. Choose a photo from the list you want to help solve, and press Solve.
  5. Depending on what kind of mystery it is, the interface will prompt you to either enter a new date, find a new location, or overlay a photo onto Street View. Once you make your suggestion, you will be able to enter in why you’ve made the choice you have.
  6. That’s it!  Because this is a beta tool (which is to say we’re still working on it to make it better), if anything weird happens, feel free to comment on this blog post, or fill out this easy form to let us know what happened.

SFPL Mid-Market photographs, mapped out in Year of the Bay under the tag "mid-market." Click the image to explore the map.

Read The Bold Italic’s post featuring SFPL’s Mid-Market photos here, and visit the Year of the Bay project page to start overlaying the photos onto their modern-day locations and to leave comments. Don’t forget to share your mystery-solving skills with your friends!

Guest Post: Local Bay Area Photographer Lynne Buckner Shares Her Bayview/Hunter’s Point Story For Year of the Bay

An abandoned home in Hunter's Point Shipyard in San Francisco, 2004. Photo by Lynne Buckner.

We’re excited to share this great contribution from local Bay Area photographer Lynne Buckner, part of our Year of the Bay project. Lynne, a resident of the Bernal Heights neighborhood in San Francisco, pinned her photos and story of visiting the now ghost-like Hunter’s Point shipyard in San Francisco, once a commercial shipyard established in the 1870s and subsequently a naval base. The now desolate area, on the shores of the San Francisco Bay, is currently in the midst of a large redevelopment plan that will ultimately include up to 1,600 homes, 27% to 40% of which will be affordable, and 26 acres of open space. In 2004, Lynne created a set of photos of all the the shipyard houses front and back, as well as some interiors of the houses that were torn down to create the new housing area in what is known as parcel A.

Abandoned Japanese-style house on Innes St., Parcel A, 2004. Photo by Lynne Buckner.

She shares her experience here:

“In 2004 I was taking photo classes at CCSF. I was attracted to ghost towns and abandoned buildings and cabins and was looking for something I could photograph without traveling to the desert. I ended up in the industrial areas of Bayview Hunters Point. I really loved Hunters Point Shipyard, and used to go early on weekend mornings saying I was visiting an artist friend who had a studio. I would then drive around and photograph the buildings of the shipyard.  After being busted one too many times, I went to Lennar Corporation and asked permission. They granted me permission to photograph in “parcel A”, an abandoned neighborhood on a hill that I had no idea existed.  There was some talk of Lennar buying the photographs but that never worked out because I was developing and printing the pictures myself and the price seemed too high to them and too low to me. I was just happy to have my own private ghost town to wander around in when I pleased. I spent as much time there as I could and really felt that I was preserving a bit of overlooked San Francisco history.

Interior of a Natoma St. house, 2004. Photo by Lynne Buckner.

Rail lines to Hunter's Point Shipyard, 2003. Photo by Lynne Buckner.

I was devastated when, after a few months, the neighborhood was demolished. It was very disturbing that efforts to salvage building materials and antique fixtures appeared to be minimal. I was grateful to have salvaged some light fixtures, road signs, knobs, 2 sinks and a medicine cabinet some of which I have in my remodeled bathroom.  The demolition of this local ghost town seemed an apt metaphor for what was happening to the analog photography I was doing and, more broadly my life as a woman over 50.

As the years have passed, my pass to enter the Shipyard was stolen out of my car and I now go only twice a year when the Shipyard is open for Open Studios.  I walk up to the housing site late in the day and photograph the progress on the new housing project. On a recent photo trip, I noted that building has started on what looks like townhouses or an apartment buildings. I’m hoping that someday the new inhabitants will be interested in what their neighborhood once looked like and enjoy imagining their link to the history of the area.”

——

All of Lynne’s photos were developed in her own darkroom, and we are happy that they have traveled from the darkroom onto Historypin. This is a nice snapshot into how one person experiences the life on the rapidly changing Bay waterfront, and a great addition to our Year of the Bay archive.

Explore more of Lynne’s photo pins on her Channel. If you’d like to contribute a guest piece to our blog about your experience around the San Francisco Bay, contact Kerri at kerri.young@wearewhatwedo.org.

Bay Area Resident José Vadi Shares His Father’s Memories of a East Harlem Home Now Lost.

Firefighters from FDNY help to contain the building collapse at Park Avenue in East Harlem, March 12, 2014. Photo from FDNY.

Around 9:30 am on March 12, 2014, two buildings once standing by 116th Street and Park Avenue in New York City’s East Harlem neighborhood were gone, leveled by an explosion from an apparent gas leak. Residents of East Harlem, also called Spanish Harlem and El Barrio, are still mourning the blast that killed 8 and injured over 50, and several community efforts continue to help rebuild the local neighborhood and help those affected.

In the wake of this tragedy comes this insightful guest blog from José Vadi, a writer and performer based in Oakland, CA and founder of the youth storytelling Off/Page Project. Before the collapse, José took the opportunity to capture his father on film revisiting his old East Harlem apartment—one of the buildings lost to the gas explosion. José kindly shared this family memory with us and pinned the video to his Channel, giving his story an even greater sense of place and the change the neighborhood has undergone. Here is what José had to say about sharing his father’s memories on Historypin:

I think it’s important to visualize the before and after of our city’s architectural landscape, especially after such tragic events as those that happened this month in East Harlem. It also helps recognize Uptown’s position in the context of Manhattan and New York at large, and how that sense of feeling removed and alone permeates my father’s memory of a building so filled with life, its underbelly, and the people who comprise its day to day.

The video on (a still yet-to-be-updated) Street View for some perspective of what the street and building looked like right before the collapse (click to view on Historypin).

Below is José’s story behind his bid to revisit the past with his father, an insightful piece called What Happens After a Collapse (also posted on Colorlines)?:

On March 12, 2014, my father forwarded a New York Times article with the headline “At Least 2 Killed in East Harlem Building Collapse.” A brief note from my Dad followed:

Dear Friends, This is the building where I grew up until I was 22 years old (1646 Park Avenue, apartment 7). If those walls could speak! They would tell a tale of immense suffering with small periods of joy.

Growing up, my sister and I heard stories about East Harlem every day from our dad. Tales of unscrupulous landlords. Our abusive grandfather. Stories of newly arrived Puerto Rican squatters filling his apartment to the brim, toiling in the family-owned bodega and the years it stole from my grandmother. My father would describe coughing up soot in the morning, filling shoe soles with cardboard, fighting Italian gangs on the way to school, and singing du-wop in his school hallways. For these reasons, I always associated New York as a place to overcome and leave, instead of a place to live and settle.

I read the article on my phone riding on BART between Oakland and San Francisco and was shocked to hear about the explosion and subsequent collapse of 1644 and 1646 Park Avenue, two neighboring tenements off 116th Street that shared an eastern view with the elevated Metro North line. To date, eight people have died despite rescue efforts to find trapped and missing residents. But in the context of what I know about my father’s life, this was the last of many remaining threads connecting him to the neighborhood he calls home, slowly eroding with every passing year.

I called my dad that night from the kitchen table in my studio apartment. As my elbows rested on the faux wood grain, I remembered my father earned his undergraduate diploma from CCNY – the “poor man’s Harvard” —using an ironing board for a desk until the age of 22. I asked him how he felt about hearing the news. He breathed a heavy sigh. “First, the neighborhood went away – La Marketa’s no longer there, 125th Street’s a mall, the people are all gone. Now, my building’s collapsed. I really don’t have a home anymore. I have no connection to my city anymore, my neighborhood. I’m totally uprooted.”

A photo of José's father with his ironing board, which he used as a desk until the age of 22. This photo was taken at José's grandmother's old house in Aguada, Puerto Rico a few years ago by family friend Daniel Perez.

In February 2010, my father, who lives in Los Angeles, went to New York for the first time since the early ’80s to participate in a lifetime achievement ceremony for East Harlem community activist Rev. Norman Eddy. Rev. Eddy hired my father at the age of 18 to be the director of housing relocation for the Metro North Citizens’ Committee. The program worked heavily along 100th Street, temporarily relocating tenants so that their homes could be refurbished while maintaining their original exteriors. This was Eddy’s attempt to prevent the community plight and disruption currently associated with gentrification and rising rents. His plan lead to cooperative ownership of buildings among tenants, to them having a stake of ownership within their East Harlem community.

Before the collapse, I wanted to document the stories I heard growing up as a kid, no matter how painful for my dad or myself. The goal was to visit 1646 Park Avenue, Apartment 7. I borrowed a FlipCam from my friend, and asked another to film my Dad and me together in his old neighborhood, for the first time. It snowed that day. Still, my father’s pace quickened as he walked across his former neighborhood pointing out where along La Marketa previously existed; his technique for selling shopping bags to patrons for five cents; the high school formerly named after Benjamin Franklin where my father trained for the Millrose Games; where he ran laps inside the hallways during the winter. He showed me the top of the subway stairs where he and his brother would fist fight with the other shoe shine boys, desperate to catch a customer. My pops noted the racial divides by block between Puerto Ricans and Italians along 3rd Avenue and the sewer caps on 117th Street that served as a stickball diamond for their ragtag neighborhood gang. I knew if I ever had the opportunity to walk alongside my dad down the streets where he grew up, I’d go along. I wanted to feel as close as possible to the trajectory that somehow lead to my own existence, starting at its root: 116 and Park.

The fragility of human life was apparent for quite tragic reasons after the collapse, yet I was grateful to have taken the opportunity to have filmed my father in a place he once called home. I wonder now if any of those whose lives were taken last week were living in the building while we were filming; if their stories could have been told to preserve, to share what went untold in homes whose exteriors never truly represent what’s held inside.

When a building falls, do those stories ever die?

I wonder whether Eddy’s plans of cooperative, resident-owned housing would fly in today’s New York economy. I wonder how you preserve a bruise while healing from the original blow? And what of those few moments of joy my father described, how do they shine through a building that to my father’s recollection is a recurring travel through a thorn-lined Babel? And of whatever walls are built in the wake of these building’s collapse, I wonder if future generations will know their true history and who laid the first foundation of East Harlem.