DATE: MARCH 27, 2012


COMMITTEE VOTE: 7 In Favor 0 Opposed 0 Abstained 0 Recused

PUBLIC MEMBERS: 1 In Favor 0 Opposed 0 Abstained 0 Recused

BOARD VOTE: 38 In Favor 0 Opposed 0 Abstained 0 Recused

RE: CB1 supports the establishment of a “Freedom Trail” in Lower Manhattan

WHEREAS: Lower Manhattan is home to many important historical sites relating to the American journey toward freedom – both the national war for independence from Britain after 1776, and the struggle against slavery two generations later; and

WHEREAS: These fascinating sites are in some cases marked and acknowledged, in others cases unmarked and nearly forgotten; and

WHEREAS: These Lower Manhattan sites, whether individually marked or not, have never been linked through maps, programs, and unifying signage into a single coherent accessible “story” – a walkable educational tour in the manner of the Freedom Trail in Boston; and

WHEREAS: The Boston Freedom Trail, established 1958, is an immensely successful tourist and educational destination, garnering 3 million visits per year, including 20,000 school trips by area children and teachers; and

WHEREAS: The Boston Freedom Trail adds million of dollars to the local economy, especially aiding smaller shops, cafes and vendors along the route – precisely the types of small businesses most in need of assistance in our community; and

WHEREAS: Other cities have acknowledged the value of the “Freedom Trail” model, and are seeking to duplicate it; in Philadelphia, for example, a commission is actively studying the creation of a “Constitutional Trial” to create a valued tourist venue and, in effect, an “outdoor classroom” for young people studying our nation’s history; and

WHEREAS: The Lower Manhattan sites include some famous locations and others less known but equally fascinating and important, including:

· The New York slave market established in 1709 near the corner of Wall and Pearl Streets;

· Fraunces Tavern at 54 Pearl Street where the New York Sons of Liberty met to discuss the dumping of tea in New York Harbor before the Revolution and where General George Washington gave his farewell address to his officers after the American victory;

· The Methodist Church at 44 John Street, among the first Methodist churches in America;

· The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church at Church and Leonard Streets, an important center of early abolitionism;

· A former wharf site at Chambers Street in present Battery Park City where in 1838, a runaway slave later known as Frederick Douglass took his first steps as a free man;

· A brick home at 36 Lispenard where abolitionist newspaper editor and activist David Ruggles ran a “station” on the Underground Railroad and published an important abolitionist newspaper, aiding Douglass and hundreds of others fleeing slavery; and

WHEREAS: Linking these sites together in a thematic story of the human struggle, against great odds, for freedom and self-determination, would create a rich, inspiring addition to the street life of Downtown; now

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT: Community Board One strongly supports the idea of the creation of Lower Manhattan Freedom trail in our community.