Melrose Stories

Children have fun at Bronx Music at Melrose event by WHEDco

Narrating Our Neighborhood: The Melrose Oral History Project

What are the boundaries of a neighborhood? Where does home end and the rest of the world begin? When you close your eyes and think of home, what do you see? Through the Melrose Oral History Project, we have had the honor of learning about home from the people of Melrose, whether home is an apartment building, music group, garden, church, or center of learning. We have been inspired by the passionate commitment to community here, and we’ve also been reminded that imagining a better future requires us to listen to and learn from each other’s individual histories.

While you reflect on the rich history and indomitable resilience of the many generations—past and present—who have found a sense of belonging in Melrose, we encourage you to listen in your own neighborhoods, homes, and families. We firmly believe that our lives and spirits depend on it.

For content and audio from all the collaborators interviewed and places researched, visit:


This project is the result of an enormously collaborative effort involving residents, workers, and creators in Melrose, staff at WHEDco, and undergraduate university students, administrators and faculty at NYU. It has been a humbling and exciting experience to see it come alive. What you see now is part of a larger installation featured at different sites in the neighborhood, and part of an even larger group of incredible oral and place histories. We encourage you to visit the featured exhibits at the other neighborhood sites (see site map). We are grateful for the opportunity to share back these community stories to you.

Our collaborators/narrators were: Mike Abner, Daniel Barber, Steven Bloomfield, Maria and Yolanda Caban, Elissa Carmona, Ed García Conde, Tony Dalton, Greywolf, Karen Hennessey, Michael Kamber, Mark Lu, Sam Marquez, Adrienne McAllister, Wanda McAllister, Jefri Mesa, Sister Patrice Owens, Marty Rogers, Bobby Sanabria, Tariq Snare, and Chaney Yelverton.

The professor and students were: Spring 2017 (Melrose oral histories) Rebecca Amato (professor),Margaret Arabpour, Carmelo Castro-Netsky, Thalia Clark, Brandon Crispin, Rahni Davis, Dylan Garcia, Arielle Hersh, Sarah Hombach, Justin Lanier, Isabella Leon-Chambers, Stacie MacDonald, Sophie Maes, Anna Marks, Avni Parikh, Maria Polzin, Nathalia Sanchez, Sarah Singh, Diamond Naga Siu; Spring 2018 (Melrose place-based histories) Rebecca Amato (professor), Brianna Alger, Joshua Barreto, Lucy Cao, Vashon Cox, Sam Gerlach, Emma Ginnell, Shannon Kandell, Rachel Markowitz, Matt Martinez, Frankie Molina, Paul Nusbaum, Bryant Payne, Jackson Plut, Anna Sampson, Annick Saralegui, Danielle Vargas, True Whitaker, Nick Zakari.

Special thanks to: Yesmín Vega, Sammi Gay, Marco Castro, Nordalys Mendez, Kerry McLean & Elena Martínez of WHEDco/Bronx Music Heritage Center; Bianca Farrow & Michael Kamber, Bronx Documentary Center; Chelsea John, Jossalyn Collado, Ava Wilson & Tim Lord, DreamYard; Kevin Barrow, Bruno Guarana, and Zach Coble, NYU; and Sady Sullivan. We would also like to thank NYU Gallatin and the Urban Democracy Lab at NYU for their support, YUCA Arts for exhibit design, printing and installation, and the amazing local businesses and organizations who so graciously agreed to host the featured stories. This exhibit is sponsored by a Humanities New York Action Grant with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.