After conducting extensive research on both the tangible and intangible heritage in Southside Williamsburg, the research team finds the following recommendations for how to use the research to support El Puente’s mission and goals, and to engage the community with its unique history.
Recommendations are listed from the simple to complex, simple recommendations requiring few resources and people to carry them out, and complex recommendations requiring more planning and help. For all recommendations, the team suggests El Puente hire an intern in order to continue research and documentation and to implement programming that engages the community both with what has been done, and what can be done in the future.
Neighborhood Historic Archive/Library
The research provided can be used to create an in-house archive/library for use by the community, other organizations, and/or individuals conducting research on Southside Williamsburg and/or the Puerto Rican communities in New York. This library could be compiled and made available digitally, or simply maintained in document form on site at one of El Puente’s locations.
Historic Landmarking of Important Sites
The research and documentation can be used as advocacy for landmarking various sites throughout the neighborhood, offering protection to historically significant buildings. This would also promote the area on a larger scale by bringing greater attention to its significance. Examples of potential sites to be landmarked include the Ukrainian Church at 177-185 South Fifth Street, Los Sures’ first Housing Receivership Contract at 149 South Fourth Street, The Farberware Factory at 141-151 South Fifth, and the Miller Grand Theater at 318 Grand Street, to name a few. Each of these buildings meets the criteria for historical significance though its architectural style, historic events or persons associated with the site.
El Puente Academy For Peace and Justice, Local History Class
The research can be used in conjunction with existing curriculum at the El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice. By first teaching the information as part of “local history” and then integrating the research methods into coursework, students can further the research already completed by investigating various topics related to sites and themes in the neighborhood that interest them on a personal level. This will help to connect younger generations with their community and also teach practical skills.
El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice, Oral History Class
The research can be to aid students at the El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice in further engaging in historical research. After familiarizing students with the existing research, they will be responsible for collecting oral histories from community members as it relates to previously researched sites and themes. This will add an important element to the research that Pratt Students conducted, but were unable to complete due to time constraints. Oral histories lend much about a place, and contribute to documentation of events not contained in books or newspapers. This includes common hardships, major events, causes and effects of the changes in the built environment, and even personal memories of the neighborhood. Ideally, these stories would be documented using audio and/or video recordings and could be easily accessed and shared, either on this site or the El Puente website.
El Puente Pop-Up Museum
The research can be used to create a pop-up museum at one of El Puente’s locations or another participating venue. The pop-up museum would be an exhibition focused on highlighting local histories and would be a way to engage the community to further document neighborhood history through general ephemera, oral histories, and artwork. Other engaging activities could be included in conjunction with the pop-up museum, such as history centered walking tours, lectures, and/or art exhibits and installations, all aimed to reflect El Puente and the neighborhood’s interests.
Los Sures Business Improvement District
The information can be used to create a Business Improvement District in Southside Williamsburg with El Puente as a leader focused on the preservation of Latino business and community. By forming a BID in the area, concerns regarding the loss of Latino businesses would be addressed, and funds could be brought into the area through outside sources such as State Main Street Funds, which could be used to specifically improve the built fabric in the area. The BID would also aid in organizing community events, improving streetscapes, and would act as a liaison between landlords, businesses and community groups. Change is inevitable in Southside, and the addition of a BID with El Puente as a key player would ensure these changes are respectful of the Puerto Rican community, and aim at maintaining their presence economically.