Pioneering Black Celebrity Enclave Gets Landmark Status

February 11, 2011  |  

(The Root) — Dr. William McKinney was thrilled when he heard the news that his neighborhood, Addisleigh Park, would be officially recognized as a historic district. On the first day of Black History Month, the honor was bestowed by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission on a community that was once home to some of the best and brightest creative people and intellectuals ever assembled in one place.  A cozy, picturesque enclave of predominantly black St. Albans, in southeast Queens, Addisleigh Park became home to scores of uniquely talented African-American residents. World-famous entertainers, history-making athletes and high-achieving professionals in a variety of fields overcame the racism of the time to create rich lifestyles despite the fact that they were not wanted, and by doing so, they turned a page in the history of blacks in the city.  The landmarked area — which to this day maintains its architectural integrity and charm — comprises 422 neatly landscaped English Tudor homes and other classic designs. The community is most celebrated for its “history that illuminates African Americans’ struggle for, and achievement of, the basic civil right of homeownership,” according to LPC Chairman Robert Tierney. The historic district is a roughly 80-acre (less than one square mile) triangular area in a section of Queens long dominated by African Americans, who have been joined more recently by people of Caribbean background. The St. Albans Congregational Church, located at the western corner of the historic neighborhood, opted out of the landmark designation.

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