INDIANA

Here the prairie starts its westward sweep…

Indiana, A Guide To the Hoosier State (WPA, 1941)

…The “This Way” sign is located right outside the town of Maukport, Indiana.  Maukport is a small town (population 81) only a stone’s throw from the Ohio River.  I spoke at length with the owner of the Riverbottom Inn, a local dive, and she said most of the people in the town were forced out when it flooded around a decade ago.  

…The truck on the road is near Starlight, Indiana, my mother’s hometown. Starlight is built on a network of hills and the only way to get to any part of the town is to drive up them. 

…The woman sitting in the pew is attending a 8:00am service at St. John the Baptist Church in Starlight, Indiana.

…”Jack’s” is a pool hall located in New Albany, Indiana. It’s one of the only bars left in town where you can still smoke.  Believe me when I say that people that play there are serious about pool.

…The woman reading the paper is sitting in a public library in Corydon, Indiana.

…The man in the stables is a traveling blacksmith.  He had arrived to reattach a horse shoe to a race horse on a farm in Borden, Indiana.

…The sprinkler in the yard was in a small suburb of Salem Indiana, just before dusk. 

* * *

Guide to the Midwest Tom Hoying is a documentary photographer and photo illustrator living and working in Columbus, OH.  He spends his free time traveling across the midwest working on long term documentary photo projects. You can view more of his work on his website, tomhoying.com and his tumblr, tomhoying.tumblr.com.

SOUTH PHILLY CALLIGRAPHY - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA 
Boot Bar lettering.
Spain, Polka, Alma and assorted South Philly tag lettering. 
Dodge lettering. 
Pat’s King of Steaks lettering. 
King of Jeans lettering.
A Man’s Image lettering. 
Melino’s lettering. 
Texas Weiners lettering.
Dolphin Tavern Billiards and Broad St. Cleaners lettering.
DEERE lettering. 
* * *
Northeast Regional Guide LEAH FRANCES was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
SOUTH PHILLY CALLIGRAPHY - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA 
Boot Bar lettering.
Spain, Polka, Alma and assorted South Philly tag lettering. 
Dodge lettering. 
Pat’s King of Steaks lettering. 
King of Jeans lettering.
A Man’s Image lettering. 
Melino’s lettering. 
Texas Weiners lettering.
Dolphin Tavern Billiards and Broad St. Cleaners lettering.
DEERE lettering. 
* * *
Northeast Regional Guide LEAH FRANCES was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
SOUTH PHILLY CALLIGRAPHY - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA 
Boot Bar lettering.
Spain, Polka, Alma and assorted South Philly tag lettering. 
Dodge lettering. 
Pat’s King of Steaks lettering. 
King of Jeans lettering.
A Man’s Image lettering. 
Melino’s lettering. 
Texas Weiners lettering.
Dolphin Tavern Billiards and Broad St. Cleaners lettering.
DEERE lettering. 
* * *
Northeast Regional Guide LEAH FRANCES was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
SOUTH PHILLY CALLIGRAPHY - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA 
Boot Bar lettering.
Spain, Polka, Alma and assorted South Philly tag lettering. 
Dodge lettering. 
Pat’s King of Steaks lettering. 
King of Jeans lettering.
A Man’s Image lettering. 
Melino’s lettering. 
Texas Weiners lettering.
Dolphin Tavern Billiards and Broad St. Cleaners lettering.
DEERE lettering. 
* * *
Northeast Regional Guide LEAH FRANCES was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
SOUTH PHILLY CALLIGRAPHY - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA 
Boot Bar lettering.
Spain, Polka, Alma and assorted South Philly tag lettering. 
Dodge lettering. 
Pat’s King of Steaks lettering. 
King of Jeans lettering.
A Man’s Image lettering. 
Melino’s lettering. 
Texas Weiners lettering.
Dolphin Tavern Billiards and Broad St. Cleaners lettering.
DEERE lettering. 
* * *
Northeast Regional Guide LEAH FRANCES was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
SOUTH PHILLY CALLIGRAPHY - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA 
Boot Bar lettering.
Spain, Polka, Alma and assorted South Philly tag lettering. 
Dodge lettering. 
Pat’s King of Steaks lettering. 
King of Jeans lettering.
A Man’s Image lettering. 
Melino’s lettering. 
Texas Weiners lettering.
Dolphin Tavern Billiards and Broad St. Cleaners lettering.
DEERE lettering. 
* * *
Northeast Regional Guide LEAH FRANCES was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
SOUTH PHILLY CALLIGRAPHY - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA 
Boot Bar lettering.
Spain, Polka, Alma and assorted South Philly tag lettering. 
Dodge lettering. 
Pat’s King of Steaks lettering. 
King of Jeans lettering.
A Man’s Image lettering. 
Melino’s lettering. 
Texas Weiners lettering.
Dolphin Tavern Billiards and Broad St. Cleaners lettering.
DEERE lettering. 
* * *
Northeast Regional Guide LEAH FRANCES was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
SOUTH PHILLY CALLIGRAPHY - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA 
Boot Bar lettering.
Spain, Polka, Alma and assorted South Philly tag lettering. 
Dodge lettering. 
Pat’s King of Steaks lettering. 
King of Jeans lettering.
A Man’s Image lettering. 
Melino’s lettering. 
Texas Weiners lettering.
Dolphin Tavern Billiards and Broad St. Cleaners lettering.
DEERE lettering. 
* * *
Northeast Regional Guide LEAH FRANCES was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
SOUTH PHILLY CALLIGRAPHY - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA 
Boot Bar lettering.
Spain, Polka, Alma and assorted South Philly tag lettering. 
Dodge lettering. 
Pat’s King of Steaks lettering. 
King of Jeans lettering.
A Man’s Image lettering. 
Melino’s lettering. 
Texas Weiners lettering.
Dolphin Tavern Billiards and Broad St. Cleaners lettering.
DEERE lettering. 
* * *
Northeast Regional Guide LEAH FRANCES was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info
SOUTH PHILLY CALLIGRAPHY - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA 
Boot Bar lettering.
Spain, Polka, Alma and assorted South Philly tag lettering. 
Dodge lettering. 
Pat’s King of Steaks lettering. 
King of Jeans lettering.
A Man’s Image lettering. 
Melino’s lettering. 
Texas Weiners lettering.
Dolphin Tavern Billiards and Broad St. Cleaners lettering.
DEERE lettering. 
* * *
Northeast Regional Guide LEAH FRANCES was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.
Zoom Info

SOUTH PHILLY CALLIGRAPHY - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA 

  1. Boot Bar lettering.
  2. Spain, Polka, Alma and assorted South Philly tag lettering. 
  3. Dodge lettering. 
  4. Pat’s King of Steaks lettering. 
  5. King of Jeans lettering.
  6. A Man’s Image lettering. 
  7. Melino’s lettering. 
  8. Texas Weiners lettering.
  9. Dolphin Tavern Billiards and Broad St. Cleaners lettering.
  10. DEERE lettering. 

* * *

Northeast Regional Guide LEAH FRANCES was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.

MIDWAY, KENTUCKY

MIDWAY, 83.7 m. (830 alt., 808 pop.), with its tree-shaded streets, old houses, and well-kept lawns and flower gardens, gives an impression of gracious living. The name refers to General Francisco’s log house built here in 1795, midway between Lexington and Frankfort. Chief Justice John Marshall referred to Midway as “the asparagus bed of the garden spot of Kentucky,” and the sobriquet has survived. According to tradition this place furnished local color for Mary J. Holmes’ Tempest and Sunshine.
—Kentucky, A Guide To the Bluegrass State (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Bob Tankersley grew up hating country music in the Country Music capital of the world… Nashville, TN. No longer a hater, Bob now uses his musical ear and guitar pick to dabble in kindred genres like bluegrass. Bob resides in the beautiful Bluegrass State with his bride and business partner who shares his wanderlust for backroads. Follow Bob on Tumblr at thebeautifulsomething.tumblr.com, find him on Instagram at @bobtank, and see more of his work on Wordpress at seeingthebeautifulsomething.wordpress.com.
Zoom Info
MIDWAY, KENTUCKY

MIDWAY, 83.7 m. (830 alt., 808 pop.), with its tree-shaded streets, old houses, and well-kept lawns and flower gardens, gives an impression of gracious living. The name refers to General Francisco’s log house built here in 1795, midway between Lexington and Frankfort. Chief Justice John Marshall referred to Midway as “the asparagus bed of the garden spot of Kentucky,” and the sobriquet has survived. According to tradition this place furnished local color for Mary J. Holmes’ Tempest and Sunshine.
—Kentucky, A Guide To the Bluegrass State (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Bob Tankersley grew up hating country music in the Country Music capital of the world… Nashville, TN. No longer a hater, Bob now uses his musical ear and guitar pick to dabble in kindred genres like bluegrass. Bob resides in the beautiful Bluegrass State with his bride and business partner who shares his wanderlust for backroads. Follow Bob on Tumblr at thebeautifulsomething.tumblr.com, find him on Instagram at @bobtank, and see more of his work on Wordpress at seeingthebeautifulsomething.wordpress.com.
Zoom Info
MIDWAY, KENTUCKY

MIDWAY, 83.7 m. (830 alt., 808 pop.), with its tree-shaded streets, old houses, and well-kept lawns and flower gardens, gives an impression of gracious living. The name refers to General Francisco’s log house built here in 1795, midway between Lexington and Frankfort. Chief Justice John Marshall referred to Midway as “the asparagus bed of the garden spot of Kentucky,” and the sobriquet has survived. According to tradition this place furnished local color for Mary J. Holmes’ Tempest and Sunshine.
—Kentucky, A Guide To the Bluegrass State (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Bob Tankersley grew up hating country music in the Country Music capital of the world… Nashville, TN. No longer a hater, Bob now uses his musical ear and guitar pick to dabble in kindred genres like bluegrass. Bob resides in the beautiful Bluegrass State with his bride and business partner who shares his wanderlust for backroads. Follow Bob on Tumblr at thebeautifulsomething.tumblr.com, find him on Instagram at @bobtank, and see more of his work on Wordpress at seeingthebeautifulsomething.wordpress.com.
Zoom Info
MIDWAY, KENTUCKY

MIDWAY, 83.7 m. (830 alt., 808 pop.), with its tree-shaded streets, old houses, and well-kept lawns and flower gardens, gives an impression of gracious living. The name refers to General Francisco’s log house built here in 1795, midway between Lexington and Frankfort. Chief Justice John Marshall referred to Midway as “the asparagus bed of the garden spot of Kentucky,” and the sobriquet has survived. According to tradition this place furnished local color for Mary J. Holmes’ Tempest and Sunshine.
—Kentucky, A Guide To the Bluegrass State (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Bob Tankersley grew up hating country music in the Country Music capital of the world… Nashville, TN. No longer a hater, Bob now uses his musical ear and guitar pick to dabble in kindred genres like bluegrass. Bob resides in the beautiful Bluegrass State with his bride and business partner who shares his wanderlust for backroads. Follow Bob on Tumblr at thebeautifulsomething.tumblr.com, find him on Instagram at @bobtank, and see more of his work on Wordpress at seeingthebeautifulsomething.wordpress.com.
Zoom Info
MIDWAY, KENTUCKY

MIDWAY, 83.7 m. (830 alt., 808 pop.), with its tree-shaded streets, old houses, and well-kept lawns and flower gardens, gives an impression of gracious living. The name refers to General Francisco’s log house built here in 1795, midway between Lexington and Frankfort. Chief Justice John Marshall referred to Midway as “the asparagus bed of the garden spot of Kentucky,” and the sobriquet has survived. According to tradition this place furnished local color for Mary J. Holmes’ Tempest and Sunshine.
—Kentucky, A Guide To the Bluegrass State (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Bob Tankersley grew up hating country music in the Country Music capital of the world… Nashville, TN. No longer a hater, Bob now uses his musical ear and guitar pick to dabble in kindred genres like bluegrass. Bob resides in the beautiful Bluegrass State with his bride and business partner who shares his wanderlust for backroads. Follow Bob on Tumblr at thebeautifulsomething.tumblr.com, find him on Instagram at @bobtank, and see more of his work on Wordpress at seeingthebeautifulsomething.wordpress.com.
Zoom Info
MIDWAY, KENTUCKY

MIDWAY, 83.7 m. (830 alt., 808 pop.), with its tree-shaded streets, old houses, and well-kept lawns and flower gardens, gives an impression of gracious living. The name refers to General Francisco’s log house built here in 1795, midway between Lexington and Frankfort. Chief Justice John Marshall referred to Midway as “the asparagus bed of the garden spot of Kentucky,” and the sobriquet has survived. According to tradition this place furnished local color for Mary J. Holmes’ Tempest and Sunshine.
—Kentucky, A Guide To the Bluegrass State (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Bob Tankersley grew up hating country music in the Country Music capital of the world… Nashville, TN. No longer a hater, Bob now uses his musical ear and guitar pick to dabble in kindred genres like bluegrass. Bob resides in the beautiful Bluegrass State with his bride and business partner who shares his wanderlust for backroads. Follow Bob on Tumblr at thebeautifulsomething.tumblr.com, find him on Instagram at @bobtank, and see more of his work on Wordpress at seeingthebeautifulsomething.wordpress.com.
Zoom Info
MIDWAY, KENTUCKY

MIDWAY, 83.7 m. (830 alt., 808 pop.), with its tree-shaded streets, old houses, and well-kept lawns and flower gardens, gives an impression of gracious living. The name refers to General Francisco’s log house built here in 1795, midway between Lexington and Frankfort. Chief Justice John Marshall referred to Midway as “the asparagus bed of the garden spot of Kentucky,” and the sobriquet has survived. According to tradition this place furnished local color for Mary J. Holmes’ Tempest and Sunshine.
—Kentucky, A Guide To the Bluegrass State (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Bob Tankersley grew up hating country music in the Country Music capital of the world… Nashville, TN. No longer a hater, Bob now uses his musical ear and guitar pick to dabble in kindred genres like bluegrass. Bob resides in the beautiful Bluegrass State with his bride and business partner who shares his wanderlust for backroads. Follow Bob on Tumblr at thebeautifulsomething.tumblr.com, find him on Instagram at @bobtank, and see more of his work on Wordpress at seeingthebeautifulsomething.wordpress.com.
Zoom Info
MIDWAY, KENTUCKY

MIDWAY, 83.7 m. (830 alt., 808 pop.), with its tree-shaded streets, old houses, and well-kept lawns and flower gardens, gives an impression of gracious living. The name refers to General Francisco’s log house built here in 1795, midway between Lexington and Frankfort. Chief Justice John Marshall referred to Midway as “the asparagus bed of the garden spot of Kentucky,” and the sobriquet has survived. According to tradition this place furnished local color for Mary J. Holmes’ Tempest and Sunshine.
—Kentucky, A Guide To the Bluegrass State (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Bob Tankersley grew up hating country music in the Country Music capital of the world… Nashville, TN. No longer a hater, Bob now uses his musical ear and guitar pick to dabble in kindred genres like bluegrass. Bob resides in the beautiful Bluegrass State with his bride and business partner who shares his wanderlust for backroads. Follow Bob on Tumblr at thebeautifulsomething.tumblr.com, find him on Instagram at @bobtank, and see more of his work on Wordpress at seeingthebeautifulsomething.wordpress.com.
Zoom Info
MIDWAY, KENTUCKY

MIDWAY, 83.7 m. (830 alt., 808 pop.), with its tree-shaded streets, old houses, and well-kept lawns and flower gardens, gives an impression of gracious living. The name refers to General Francisco’s log house built here in 1795, midway between Lexington and Frankfort. Chief Justice John Marshall referred to Midway as “the asparagus bed of the garden spot of Kentucky,” and the sobriquet has survived. According to tradition this place furnished local color for Mary J. Holmes’ Tempest and Sunshine.
—Kentucky, A Guide To the Bluegrass State (WPA, 1939)

* * *
Bob Tankersley grew up hating country music in the Country Music capital of the world… Nashville, TN. No longer a hater, Bob now uses his musical ear and guitar pick to dabble in kindred genres like bluegrass. Bob resides in the beautiful Bluegrass State with his bride and business partner who shares his wanderlust for backroads. Follow Bob on Tumblr at thebeautifulsomething.tumblr.com, find him on Instagram at @bobtank, and see more of his work on Wordpress at seeingthebeautifulsomething.wordpress.com.
Zoom Info

MIDWAY, KENTUCKY

MIDWAY, 83.7 m. (830 alt., 808 pop.), with its tree-shaded streets, old houses, and well-kept lawns and flower gardens, gives an impression of gracious living. The name refers to General Francisco’s log house built here in 1795, midway between Lexington and Frankfort. Chief Justice John Marshall referred to Midway as “the asparagus bed of the garden spot of Kentucky,” and the sobriquet has survived. According to tradition this place furnished local color for Mary J. Holmes’ Tempest and Sunshine.

Kentucky, A Guide To the Bluegrass State (WPA, 1939)

* * *

Bob Tankersley grew up hating country music in the Country Music capital of the world… Nashville, TN. No longer a hater, Bob now uses his musical ear and guitar pick to dabble in kindred genres like bluegrass. Bob resides in the beautiful Bluegrass State with his bride and business partner who shares his wanderlust for backroads. Follow Bob on Tumblr at thebeautifulsomething.tumblr.com, find him on Instagram at @bobtank, and see more of his work on Wordpress at seeingthebeautifulsomething.wordpress.com.

SMALL TOWN DINERS - INDIANA

Meals served in smartly fronted little restaurants and lunch stands retain the unmistakable tang of country cooking. 

Indiana: A Guide to the Hoosier State (WPA, 1941)

Small town diners in Indiana: stop in a good one and you will likely meet some incredible people; owners who love to cook and are adept at running a business on a shoestring. Small town cafes are personal spaces that reflect the ups and downs of their surrounding community.  They provide a central meeting spot and a sociable place to eat alone.

How to rate a café in the Hoosier state? If hand-breaded tenderloin and homemade pie are on the menu, your order will not disappoint.

Guide Notes:

—locations—

  1. Mary Ann Rubio, Family Café, Knox, IN
  2. The Grill, LaCrosse, IN
  3. Happy Days Café, Wakarusa, IN
  4. White House Hamburgers, Logansport, IN
  5. Hamlet Café, Hamlet, IN
  6. Crockpot Café, Walkerton, IN
  7. Teel’s Family Restaurant, Mentone, IN
  8. Northside Diner, Chesterton, IN
  9. The Nook, Columbia City, IN
  10. Woodland Inn, Woodland, IN

* * *

Kay Westhues is a photographer based in South Bend, IN. Through her work she aims to describe the vitality and complexity of places and people whose lives are often overlooked and unexamined. She is inspired by the ways rural tradition and history are interpreted and transformed in the present day. You can see more of her work at kaywesthues.com or follow her latest project on tumblr (kwesthues.tumblr.com).

This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit.

Well, shucks - guardian Travel named The American Guide a “best independent travel magazine.” We’re honored to be included on their illustrious list.

This is, of course, completely due to all our Guides and contributors. They make it a pleasure to open our dashboard every morning and we hope you’re following every one of their own blogs, sites and projects

This also seems like an opportunity to thank Tumblr’s staff. We are a strange beast - a blend of travel, photography, history and documentary very different than the other publications on the Guardian’s list. We’re able to do what we do in large part because of some awesome folks at Tumblr and the community-driven platform they produce.

A BRIEF GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES IN SEVEN FACES 

There is a large transient population of tourists, job-hunters, climate-seekers, elderly retired persons, and Hollywood hopefuls.
With these comparative newcomers, who form the majority of the population, ties with the home state remain strong. Angelenos dearly love to reminisce about “back East” and “back East” may be anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.
This attachment for the old home furnishes a clue to the character of the City of the Angels and its people. It suggests that the transplanted settler has never quite grown used to living here, has never quite been able to regard Los Angeles as his true home. Coming largely from the prairie regions, of rigorous climate and even more rigorous conventions, he suddenly finds himself in an exotic land of lofty purple mountains, azure ocean, and mild, seductive climate, where the romance of old Spain is nurtured and blends with the gaudiness of Hollywood, where rigid conventions are relaxed and comparative tolerance is the rule. To many a newcomer, Los Angeles is a modern Promised Land. It amazes and delights him, and thaws him out physically and spiritually. There is a heady fragrance in the air, and a spaciousness of sky and land and sea that give him a new sense of freedom and tempt him to taste new pleasures, new habits of living, new religions. Finding himself in the amusement capital of the West and at the hub of a vast natural playground offering every variety of sport from surf boarding to skijoring, he proceeds to have more fun than he ever dreamed was possible. He is fascinated by strange new industries and new agricultural products: movie studios, oil fields, almond orchards, vineyards, olive and orange groves. He encounters new and exotic types of people: movie actors and sombreroed Mexicans, kimonoed Japanese and turbaned Hindus. He develops an urge to try things that are novel and exciting, from Chinese herb doctors to Indian medicine men, from social credit to nudism, from a wine-colored stucco dwelling to a restaurant shaped like a hat. And because the array of things to do and see is so dazzlingly different from everything he has known, his curiosity is always whetted, his appetite never sated. He feels a certain strangeness in this place he now calls his home, a strangeness that is at once exhilarating and disturbing, and that he had not known in his native place “back East.”
—Los Angeles, A Guide To the City and Its Environs (WPA, 1941)

* * *
Julie Grace Immink is a social documentary photographer living in Los Angeles. She was born in the wagon of a traveling show. Exploring the streets with her camera is how she connects to the surrounding world. Her photographs are saturated with thoughts on life, death, faith and community. She gains inspiration from anything old and broken but believes in healing and restoration. Follow on tumblr at juliegracephotography.tumblr.com.
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit.
Zoom Info
A BRIEF GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES IN SEVEN FACES 

There is a large transient population of tourists, job-hunters, climate-seekers, elderly retired persons, and Hollywood hopefuls.
With these comparative newcomers, who form the majority of the population, ties with the home state remain strong. Angelenos dearly love to reminisce about “back East” and “back East” may be anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.
This attachment for the old home furnishes a clue to the character of the City of the Angels and its people. It suggests that the transplanted settler has never quite grown used to living here, has never quite been able to regard Los Angeles as his true home. Coming largely from the prairie regions, of rigorous climate and even more rigorous conventions, he suddenly finds himself in an exotic land of lofty purple mountains, azure ocean, and mild, seductive climate, where the romance of old Spain is nurtured and blends with the gaudiness of Hollywood, where rigid conventions are relaxed and comparative tolerance is the rule. To many a newcomer, Los Angeles is a modern Promised Land. It amazes and delights him, and thaws him out physically and spiritually. There is a heady fragrance in the air, and a spaciousness of sky and land and sea that give him a new sense of freedom and tempt him to taste new pleasures, new habits of living, new religions. Finding himself in the amusement capital of the West and at the hub of a vast natural playground offering every variety of sport from surf boarding to skijoring, he proceeds to have more fun than he ever dreamed was possible. He is fascinated by strange new industries and new agricultural products: movie studios, oil fields, almond orchards, vineyards, olive and orange groves. He encounters new and exotic types of people: movie actors and sombreroed Mexicans, kimonoed Japanese and turbaned Hindus. He develops an urge to try things that are novel and exciting, from Chinese herb doctors to Indian medicine men, from social credit to nudism, from a wine-colored stucco dwelling to a restaurant shaped like a hat. And because the array of things to do and see is so dazzlingly different from everything he has known, his curiosity is always whetted, his appetite never sated. He feels a certain strangeness in this place he now calls his home, a strangeness that is at once exhilarating and disturbing, and that he had not known in his native place “back East.”
—Los Angeles, A Guide To the City and Its Environs (WPA, 1941)

* * *
Julie Grace Immink is a social documentary photographer living in Los Angeles. She was born in the wagon of a traveling show. Exploring the streets with her camera is how she connects to the surrounding world. Her photographs are saturated with thoughts on life, death, faith and community. She gains inspiration from anything old and broken but believes in healing and restoration. Follow on tumblr at juliegracephotography.tumblr.com.
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit.
Zoom Info
A BRIEF GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES IN SEVEN FACES 

There is a large transient population of tourists, job-hunters, climate-seekers, elderly retired persons, and Hollywood hopefuls.
With these comparative newcomers, who form the majority of the population, ties with the home state remain strong. Angelenos dearly love to reminisce about “back East” and “back East” may be anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.
This attachment for the old home furnishes a clue to the character of the City of the Angels and its people. It suggests that the transplanted settler has never quite grown used to living here, has never quite been able to regard Los Angeles as his true home. Coming largely from the prairie regions, of rigorous climate and even more rigorous conventions, he suddenly finds himself in an exotic land of lofty purple mountains, azure ocean, and mild, seductive climate, where the romance of old Spain is nurtured and blends with the gaudiness of Hollywood, where rigid conventions are relaxed and comparative tolerance is the rule. To many a newcomer, Los Angeles is a modern Promised Land. It amazes and delights him, and thaws him out physically and spiritually. There is a heady fragrance in the air, and a spaciousness of sky and land and sea that give him a new sense of freedom and tempt him to taste new pleasures, new habits of living, new religions. Finding himself in the amusement capital of the West and at the hub of a vast natural playground offering every variety of sport from surf boarding to skijoring, he proceeds to have more fun than he ever dreamed was possible. He is fascinated by strange new industries and new agricultural products: movie studios, oil fields, almond orchards, vineyards, olive and orange groves. He encounters new and exotic types of people: movie actors and sombreroed Mexicans, kimonoed Japanese and turbaned Hindus. He develops an urge to try things that are novel and exciting, from Chinese herb doctors to Indian medicine men, from social credit to nudism, from a wine-colored stucco dwelling to a restaurant shaped like a hat. And because the array of things to do and see is so dazzlingly different from everything he has known, his curiosity is always whetted, his appetite never sated. He feels a certain strangeness in this place he now calls his home, a strangeness that is at once exhilarating and disturbing, and that he had not known in his native place “back East.”
—Los Angeles, A Guide To the City and Its Environs (WPA, 1941)

* * *
Julie Grace Immink is a social documentary photographer living in Los Angeles. She was born in the wagon of a traveling show. Exploring the streets with her camera is how she connects to the surrounding world. Her photographs are saturated with thoughts on life, death, faith and community. She gains inspiration from anything old and broken but believes in healing and restoration. Follow on tumblr at juliegracephotography.tumblr.com.
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit.
Zoom Info
A BRIEF GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES IN SEVEN FACES 

There is a large transient population of tourists, job-hunters, climate-seekers, elderly retired persons, and Hollywood hopefuls.
With these comparative newcomers, who form the majority of the population, ties with the home state remain strong. Angelenos dearly love to reminisce about “back East” and “back East” may be anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.
This attachment for the old home furnishes a clue to the character of the City of the Angels and its people. It suggests that the transplanted settler has never quite grown used to living here, has never quite been able to regard Los Angeles as his true home. Coming largely from the prairie regions, of rigorous climate and even more rigorous conventions, he suddenly finds himself in an exotic land of lofty purple mountains, azure ocean, and mild, seductive climate, where the romance of old Spain is nurtured and blends with the gaudiness of Hollywood, where rigid conventions are relaxed and comparative tolerance is the rule. To many a newcomer, Los Angeles is a modern Promised Land. It amazes and delights him, and thaws him out physically and spiritually. There is a heady fragrance in the air, and a spaciousness of sky and land and sea that give him a new sense of freedom and tempt him to taste new pleasures, new habits of living, new religions. Finding himself in the amusement capital of the West and at the hub of a vast natural playground offering every variety of sport from surf boarding to skijoring, he proceeds to have more fun than he ever dreamed was possible. He is fascinated by strange new industries and new agricultural products: movie studios, oil fields, almond orchards, vineyards, olive and orange groves. He encounters new and exotic types of people: movie actors and sombreroed Mexicans, kimonoed Japanese and turbaned Hindus. He develops an urge to try things that are novel and exciting, from Chinese herb doctors to Indian medicine men, from social credit to nudism, from a wine-colored stucco dwelling to a restaurant shaped like a hat. And because the array of things to do and see is so dazzlingly different from everything he has known, his curiosity is always whetted, his appetite never sated. He feels a certain strangeness in this place he now calls his home, a strangeness that is at once exhilarating and disturbing, and that he had not known in his native place “back East.”
—Los Angeles, A Guide To the City and Its Environs (WPA, 1941)

* * *
Julie Grace Immink is a social documentary photographer living in Los Angeles. She was born in the wagon of a traveling show. Exploring the streets with her camera is how she connects to the surrounding world. Her photographs are saturated with thoughts on life, death, faith and community. She gains inspiration from anything old and broken but believes in healing and restoration. Follow on tumblr at juliegracephotography.tumblr.com.
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit.
Zoom Info
A BRIEF GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES IN SEVEN FACES 

There is a large transient population of tourists, job-hunters, climate-seekers, elderly retired persons, and Hollywood hopefuls.
With these comparative newcomers, who form the majority of the population, ties with the home state remain strong. Angelenos dearly love to reminisce about “back East” and “back East” may be anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.
This attachment for the old home furnishes a clue to the character of the City of the Angels and its people. It suggests that the transplanted settler has never quite grown used to living here, has never quite been able to regard Los Angeles as his true home. Coming largely from the prairie regions, of rigorous climate and even more rigorous conventions, he suddenly finds himself in an exotic land of lofty purple mountains, azure ocean, and mild, seductive climate, where the romance of old Spain is nurtured and blends with the gaudiness of Hollywood, where rigid conventions are relaxed and comparative tolerance is the rule. To many a newcomer, Los Angeles is a modern Promised Land. It amazes and delights him, and thaws him out physically and spiritually. There is a heady fragrance in the air, and a spaciousness of sky and land and sea that give him a new sense of freedom and tempt him to taste new pleasures, new habits of living, new religions. Finding himself in the amusement capital of the West and at the hub of a vast natural playground offering every variety of sport from surf boarding to skijoring, he proceeds to have more fun than he ever dreamed was possible. He is fascinated by strange new industries and new agricultural products: movie studios, oil fields, almond orchards, vineyards, olive and orange groves. He encounters new and exotic types of people: movie actors and sombreroed Mexicans, kimonoed Japanese and turbaned Hindus. He develops an urge to try things that are novel and exciting, from Chinese herb doctors to Indian medicine men, from social credit to nudism, from a wine-colored stucco dwelling to a restaurant shaped like a hat. And because the array of things to do and see is so dazzlingly different from everything he has known, his curiosity is always whetted, his appetite never sated. He feels a certain strangeness in this place he now calls his home, a strangeness that is at once exhilarating and disturbing, and that he had not known in his native place “back East.”
—Los Angeles, A Guide To the City and Its Environs (WPA, 1941)

* * *
Julie Grace Immink is a social documentary photographer living in Los Angeles. She was born in the wagon of a traveling show. Exploring the streets with her camera is how she connects to the surrounding world. Her photographs are saturated with thoughts on life, death, faith and community. She gains inspiration from anything old and broken but believes in healing and restoration. Follow on tumblr at juliegracephotography.tumblr.com.
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit.
Zoom Info
A BRIEF GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES IN SEVEN FACES 

There is a large transient population of tourists, job-hunters, climate-seekers, elderly retired persons, and Hollywood hopefuls.
With these comparative newcomers, who form the majority of the population, ties with the home state remain strong. Angelenos dearly love to reminisce about “back East” and “back East” may be anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.
This attachment for the old home furnishes a clue to the character of the City of the Angels and its people. It suggests that the transplanted settler has never quite grown used to living here, has never quite been able to regard Los Angeles as his true home. Coming largely from the prairie regions, of rigorous climate and even more rigorous conventions, he suddenly finds himself in an exotic land of lofty purple mountains, azure ocean, and mild, seductive climate, where the romance of old Spain is nurtured and blends with the gaudiness of Hollywood, where rigid conventions are relaxed and comparative tolerance is the rule. To many a newcomer, Los Angeles is a modern Promised Land. It amazes and delights him, and thaws him out physically and spiritually. There is a heady fragrance in the air, and a spaciousness of sky and land and sea that give him a new sense of freedom and tempt him to taste new pleasures, new habits of living, new religions. Finding himself in the amusement capital of the West and at the hub of a vast natural playground offering every variety of sport from surf boarding to skijoring, he proceeds to have more fun than he ever dreamed was possible. He is fascinated by strange new industries and new agricultural products: movie studios, oil fields, almond orchards, vineyards, olive and orange groves. He encounters new and exotic types of people: movie actors and sombreroed Mexicans, kimonoed Japanese and turbaned Hindus. He develops an urge to try things that are novel and exciting, from Chinese herb doctors to Indian medicine men, from social credit to nudism, from a wine-colored stucco dwelling to a restaurant shaped like a hat. And because the array of things to do and see is so dazzlingly different from everything he has known, his curiosity is always whetted, his appetite never sated. He feels a certain strangeness in this place he now calls his home, a strangeness that is at once exhilarating and disturbing, and that he had not known in his native place “back East.”
—Los Angeles, A Guide To the City and Its Environs (WPA, 1941)

* * *
Julie Grace Immink is a social documentary photographer living in Los Angeles. She was born in the wagon of a traveling show. Exploring the streets with her camera is how she connects to the surrounding world. Her photographs are saturated with thoughts on life, death, faith and community. She gains inspiration from anything old and broken but believes in healing and restoration. Follow on tumblr at juliegracephotography.tumblr.com.
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit.
Zoom Info
A BRIEF GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES IN SEVEN FACES 

There is a large transient population of tourists, job-hunters, climate-seekers, elderly retired persons, and Hollywood hopefuls.
With these comparative newcomers, who form the majority of the population, ties with the home state remain strong. Angelenos dearly love to reminisce about “back East” and “back East” may be anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.
This attachment for the old home furnishes a clue to the character of the City of the Angels and its people. It suggests that the transplanted settler has never quite grown used to living here, has never quite been able to regard Los Angeles as his true home. Coming largely from the prairie regions, of rigorous climate and even more rigorous conventions, he suddenly finds himself in an exotic land of lofty purple mountains, azure ocean, and mild, seductive climate, where the romance of old Spain is nurtured and blends with the gaudiness of Hollywood, where rigid conventions are relaxed and comparative tolerance is the rule. To many a newcomer, Los Angeles is a modern Promised Land. It amazes and delights him, and thaws him out physically and spiritually. There is a heady fragrance in the air, and a spaciousness of sky and land and sea that give him a new sense of freedom and tempt him to taste new pleasures, new habits of living, new religions. Finding himself in the amusement capital of the West and at the hub of a vast natural playground offering every variety of sport from surf boarding to skijoring, he proceeds to have more fun than he ever dreamed was possible. He is fascinated by strange new industries and new agricultural products: movie studios, oil fields, almond orchards, vineyards, olive and orange groves. He encounters new and exotic types of people: movie actors and sombreroed Mexicans, kimonoed Japanese and turbaned Hindus. He develops an urge to try things that are novel and exciting, from Chinese herb doctors to Indian medicine men, from social credit to nudism, from a wine-colored stucco dwelling to a restaurant shaped like a hat. And because the array of things to do and see is so dazzlingly different from everything he has known, his curiosity is always whetted, his appetite never sated. He feels a certain strangeness in this place he now calls his home, a strangeness that is at once exhilarating and disturbing, and that he had not known in his native place “back East.”
—Los Angeles, A Guide To the City and Its Environs (WPA, 1941)

* * *
Julie Grace Immink is a social documentary photographer living in Los Angeles. She was born in the wagon of a traveling show. Exploring the streets with her camera is how she connects to the surrounding world. Her photographs are saturated with thoughts on life, death, faith and community. She gains inspiration from anything old and broken but believes in healing and restoration. Follow on tumblr at juliegracephotography.tumblr.com.
This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit.
Zoom Info

A BRIEF GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES IN SEVEN FACES 

There is a large transient population of tourists, job-hunters, climate-seekers, elderly retired persons, and Hollywood hopefuls.

With these comparative newcomers, who form the majority of the population, ties with the home state remain strong. Angelenos dearly love to reminisce about “back East” and “back East” may be anywhere east of the Rocky Mountains.

This attachment for the old home furnishes a clue to the character of the City of the Angels and its people. It suggests that the transplanted settler has never quite grown used to living here, has never quite been able to regard Los Angeles as his true home. Coming largely from the prairie regions, of rigorous climate and even more rigorous conventions, he suddenly finds himself in an exotic land of lofty purple mountains, azure ocean, and mild, seductive climate, where the romance of old Spain is nurtured and blends with the gaudiness of Hollywood, where rigid conventions are relaxed and comparative tolerance is the rule. To many a newcomer, Los Angeles is a modern Promised Land. It amazes and delights him, and thaws him out physically and spiritually. There is a heady fragrance in the air, and a spaciousness of sky and land and sea that give him a new sense of freedom and tempt him to taste new pleasures, new habits of living, new religions. Finding himself in the amusement capital of the West and at the hub of a vast natural playground offering every variety of sport from surf boarding to skijoring, he proceeds to have more fun than he ever dreamed was possible. He is fascinated by strange new industries and new agricultural products: movie studios, oil fields, almond orchards, vineyards, olive and orange groves. He encounters new and exotic types of people: movie actors and sombreroed Mexicans, kimonoed Japanese and turbaned Hindus. He develops an urge to try things that are novel and exciting, from Chinese herb doctors to Indian medicine men, from social credit to nudism, from a wine-colored stucco dwelling to a restaurant shaped like a hat. And because the array of things to do and see is so dazzlingly different from everything he has known, his curiosity is always whetted, his appetite never sated. He feels a certain strangeness in this place he now calls his home, a strangeness that is at once exhilarating and disturbing, and that he had not known in his native place “back East.”

Los Angeles, A Guide To the City and Its Environs (WPA, 1941)

* * *

Julie Grace Immink is a social documentary photographer living in Los Angeles. She was born in the wagon of a traveling show. Exploring the streets with her camera is how she connects to the surrounding world. Her photographs are saturated with thoughts on life, death, faith and community. She gains inspiration from anything old and broken but believes in healing and restoration. Follow on tumblr at juliegracephotography.tumblr.com.

This dispatch arrived care of THE AMERICAN GUIDE submission page. Be a guide yourself and send a post from your state: theamericanguide.org/submit.

MARDI GRAS - NEW ORLEANS, LOUSIANA

Mardi Gras, that maddest of all mad days when every man may be a king, or, if he prefers, a tramp or a clown or an Indian chief, and dance in the streets. 

New Orleans City Guide (WPA, 1938)

If you didn’t come to party, take your bitch ass home,” shouts the man selling t-shirts on Bourbon Street. He adds, “I have size sexy for the ladies.”

The main street for Carnival Season partying in New Orleans has a distinct aroma—a mix of sweat, crawfish, Daiquiri puke and just-starting-to-rot garbage. All around the senses are assaulted with beads thrown from above, shoes getting stuck to the sticky wash that covers the street, drummers drumming, people shouting and bursts of purple, gold and green. Mardi Gras has been taking place in New Orleans since before 1835. It is a time for the loud, the grotesque, the strange and excess. While this might sound awful, it is intoxicating. The season has lasted all these years because it is what you make it.

Everyone has a different experience because no one is in charge and the celebration spreads throughout the city. If you came to party, you will find one on Bourbon. I saw lots of tits, a couple asses, hundreds of hollow plastic legs dangling around people’s necks filled with red liquor, people tumbling after one too many and too many crazy outfits to count.

The balcony people taunt the crowds below. Some put fancy trinkets on fishing wire to yank the items out of greedy, eager hands. They lay in wait to judge who is deserving of the beads. Sometimes it requires a dance or a flash and sometimes they take pity on a cute nine-year-old who is getting quite an eyeful.

Just one street over, there is the opportunity for family friendly fare. Royal Street, which turns into St. Charles when heading Uptown, is filled with jugglers and street musicians, and is also the main parade route for the bigger parades. Smartly, the first couple rows of people have chairs and right behind, people set up ladders with elaborate boxes for children to sit in for a better view. There is definitely alcohol, but people try to keep it together a little more here.

Quintron and Miss Pussycat are playing at the Spellcaster Lodge with Jello Biafra in attendance and Big Freedia is bouncing at VASO. There are fancy balls with high society that are by invitation only and parades that are solely for the people who know where they start and stop.

It can also be a time for the political. Different Krewes head different parades, all with unique themes for the year. The Krewe d’Etat is known for its biting satire and this year was no different with floats criticizing the sex trade and prison system. The Zulu Parade, that goes through the neighborhood torn apart by the freeway, celebrated the life of Nelson Mandela this year.

For me, Mardi Gras was cruising the city by bicycle and taking in the sites and sounds. The majority of the time it was a delight. Walking and making photographs, I was moved to tears during the Talladega College Marching Band’s version of Get Lucky and was surprised to find how amazing it is to make eye contact with someone on a giant float and catching the beads thrown right at me. And I already miss the smell.

Mark Twain said: “I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi-Gras in New Orleans.” 

* * *

Tammy Mercure is a State Guide to Tennessee. She was named one of the “100 under 100: The New Superstars of Southern Art” by Oxford American magazine.

Follow on Tumblr at tammymercure or on her website, TammyMercure.com. Support her work at TCB Press.

RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
Zoom Info
RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
Zoom Info
RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
Zoom Info
RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
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RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…
—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.
In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  
Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.
While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.
During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.
With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   
After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.
Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.
 * * *
April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.
Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.
Zoom Info

RELIGION - CENTRAL ALABAMA 

Soon after the war, the Negroes, who had been members of white churches, began establishing their own congregations. They had no funds with which to build and found that sites were difficult to obtain. For a time they were forced to meet in any available building…

—Alabama: A Guide to the Deep South (WPA, 1941)

Religion, specifically Christianity, plays a vital role in rural Alabama life. Traditionally, the church served as a central meeting place and social nucleus for country dwellers. Today, a disproportionate number of churches dot the verdant landscapes surrounding small, one-stoplight towns.

In winter the scant foliage reveals even more of these worship centers, which seem to materialize out of the wilderness. You’ll find these squat, whitewashed structures on backwoods roadways, perched atop remote hillsides, and nestled at the end of quiet dirt roads.  

Though many congregations long abandoned their traditional church structures for newer buildings. The old edifices are rarely demolished. Relics of a bygone era, the abandoned buildings slowly fade into the landscape. Ravenous kudzu vines devour their facades.

While there has been a great deal of progress in Alabama as far as race-relations are concerned, most places of worship remain fairly segregated along racial lines. Even in the smallest towns, churches with majority white congregations are situated a short distance from black churches of the same denomination. These divisions are holdovers from slavery and segregation. Most parishioners see their fellow church members as a sort of extended family; historically, this extension rarely crossed racial boundaries.

During segregation, church was one of the few places where black Alabamians felt safe and free to cultivate an identity. For many African-Americans, church served as a community headquarters for mobilizing against Jim Crow laws. Worship services allowed them a brief reprieve from the troubles of the world around them. These sanctuaries were also home to some of the first black schools.

With the music and message alternating between uplifting and woeful, the order of Sunday services haven’t changed much since the 1950s. While today’s services are shorter and, thanks to air conditioning, more comfortable, the devotionals at a number of black churches are still slow, meditative sessions of mournful humming and call-and-response singing. The spirit and tone of many devotional songs were carried over from the fields. While most slaves were punished for talking while they worked, it was common for overseers to allow singing.   

After devotion, the spirit of the service grows more and more uplifting. The choir sings songs of promise. The sermon—which starts with the reading of a few verses— crescendos into a high-energy show of jumping and shouting. Churchgoers stand and match the minister’s enthusiasm. They wave their hands, jump up and down, stomp their feet, shout things like “amen,” “yes,” and “preach!” This type of enthusiastic service still occurs at a number of churches across central Alabama. These services, like the old worship structures speckling the rural landscape, attest to how closely linked the past and the present are in the increasingly complicated palimpsest that is the American South.

Guide Notes: All photos were taken by April Dobbins in Hale County, Alabama.

 * * *

April Dobbins is a Guide to Alabama and the Southeast. Born and raised in Alabama, she is a writer and photographer. Though she has lived just about everywhere, she can’t seem to shake her Southern.  She currently resides in Miami, Florida, and is at work on Alabamaland, a documentary project about African-American farm life in rural Alabama.

Find her on Tumblr at aprilartiste.tumblr.com and on her website at aprildobbins.com.

THE DESCENT OF CIVILIZATION - AMERICAN BISON, SOUTH DAKOTA

These animals have largely forsaken the nomadic tendencies of their ancestors and are generally content to remain the year around on the home range. Only occasionally does one wander away. Such was the case in 1936 when an old buffalo appeared in a farmer’s yard near Witten in the Rosebud country. The children screamed and climbed the windmill; the excited parents called the neighbors on the party telephone line and soon all were there with automobiles. Using cars, the farmers chased the decrepit old buffalo until he fell exhausted and died.

A South Dakota Guide (WPA, 1938)

Before Alexander Hamilton’s visage graced the ten dollar bill, it was Andrew Jackson’s mug leering from the note. But just preceding Old Hickory, for an all-too-brief period of 13 years, the sawbuck sported a far worthier American symbol—the bison. When the Treasury released the “Buffalo Bill” in 1901, there were only a few hundred living animals remaining. 

The American bison was one of the first and best cases for conservation in the United States, largely because their near incalculable numbers were relentlessly exterminated within an incredibly short span of time. White buffalo hunters, government policies targeting American Indians, the Transcontinental Railroad, and even telegraph companies were all drivers behind the bison’s systematic annihilation.  

In 1889, William Hornaday, the first director of the Bronx Zoo, wrote, “Of all the quadrupeds that have lived upon the earth, probably no other species has ever marshaled such innumerable hosts as those of the American bison. It would have been as easy to count or to estimate the number of leaves in a forest as to calculate the number of buffaloes living at any given time during the history of the species previous to 1870.”

Today there are about 500,000 bison in North America (some 10 percent of which belong to Buffalo Bill wanna-be Ted Turner) and the animals continue to be a source of controversy. In Montana, ranchers fear the spread of brucellosis from roaming bison to their cattle herds, and are trying to stop the restoration of wild buffalo to the land. One state legislator remarked, “Why do you want to spread this creeping cancer, these wooly tanks, around the state of Montana? We’ve got zero tolerance left in our bones.”

All wrangling aside, when you round a bend and see for the first time the hulking black masses dividing flat green from flat blue, it is heart-stopping. A shadow play of the Great Plains myth moving slowly across the horizon, never to be forgotten. 

Guide note: During the summer months Custer State Park’s Wildlife Loop Road is packed with RVs and minivans, but it’s also a good place to get the merest hint of what bison herds must have been like in the 19th century. And if you’re up for roughing it in the primitive camping area of the park, you may wake up to the snorts, snuffles and bellowing grunts of a herd surrounding your tent.

Further reading: 

Ghost Dances: Proving Up On the Great Plains by Josh Garrett-Davis begins at the Bronx Zoo’s bison enclosure and unspools the deeply layered history of the Great Plains alongside a memoir of growing up in South Dakota.  

The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley contains (amongst other fascinating conservation tales) the story of Roosevelt and William Hornaday’s attempts to save the bison from extinction.

Images - Erin Chapman & Tom McNamara; Words - Erin Chapman; Archive - Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Burton Historical Collection - Detroit Public Library

* * *

Erin Chapman and Tom McNamara are co-editors of The American Guide. 

BLACK CHURCHES & FRATERNAL SOCIETIES - BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
The church has long been at the heart of African-American life in Brooklyn, once known as the “city of churches.” In the 1760s, Captain Thomas Webb, a British convert to Wesleyan Methodism, began holding outdoor services in downtown Brooklyn before purchasing land on Sands Street in 1794 for what would become the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn. The church was notable for its integrated white and black congregation, highly unusual for the time; however, African-American parishioners soon grew displeased with the discriminatory treatment they endured from the majority-white congregation. In 1818, blacks from the Sands Street church sent a delegation to Philadelphia to meet with Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in that city. After gaining recognition from the AME Church and the State of New York, the breakaway group founded the First African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church, later known as the Bridge Street Church after it moved to that locale in 1854. The present Bridge Street Church is located on Stuyvesant Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where it continues to be a vital part of the community.
During the Civil War, Brooklyn’s small free black population was given a boost by the exodus of African Americans from Manhattan following the notorious Draft Riots. Small black communities, clustered near the waterfront in Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Fort Greene, were gradually drawn further out to areas like “Crow Hill” (Crown Heights) and Weeksville, the latter being the speculative venture of James Weeks, an African-American real estate developer. Successive waves of migrants from the post-Emancipation South were followed by immigrants from the Caribbean after World War I. By the mid-twentieth century, de facto segregation, government policies, and “redlining” by banks and real estate agencies had combined to concentrate people of African descent in Central Brooklyn, particularly in the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
Church life continues to play a highly visible role in black Brooklyn, even as Bloomberg-era gentrification and high rents compound decades of neglect and threaten to displace older residents. While some of the images here—particularly those of the storefront churches which proliferated with the spread of various Pentacostal and Evangelical Protestant denominations—suggest a kind of picturesque decay, many congregations, such as Concord Street Baptist (founded 1847) and First AME Zion (1885) continue to thrive.
An interesting analogue to the black church has been the contemporaneous development of African-American fraternal societies, most famously the Prince Hall Freemasons, members of which continue to meet at the Enoch Grand Lodge on Nostrand Avenue (various Prince Hall lodges also utilize the larger Brooklyn Masonic Temple on Clermont Avenue in Fort Greene). Masonic insignia featuring the square and compass with the letter “G” abound on the building, seen in its stained glass and on its flagpole, and reflected on license-plate holders, window decals and the awning of a deli across the street. Founded by Prince Hall, a free African American who chartered an “African Lodge” during the Revolutionary War, the Prince Hall Masons formed part of a vital network linking antebellum free black communities, fostering close ties to the churches and taking an active part in antislavery agitation. In the Reconstruction South, black politicians and ministers organized Masonic lodges alongside AME churches and Republican Party clubs. Despite being excluded from the mainstream, whites-only iterations of fraternal societies, blacks formed their own lodges of Prince Hall Masons as well as of fraternal offshoots like the Odd-Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Order of the Eastern Star. Membership in these organizations exploded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as part of a general mania for secret societies and associations of all kinds. But for African Americans, the benevolent and charitable functions of these groups only grew in importance as segregation forced them to rely increasingly on institutions within their own communities for mutual aid and support.
One such organization, the all-female Grand United Order of Tents, was established in Norfolk, Virginia in 1866 by two former slaves, Annetta Lane and Harriet Taylor (the group may in fact have originated before the Civil War as part of the Underground Railroad organized to shelter runaway slaves). Their somewhat forlorn-looking former headquarters on MacDonough Street, in the former mansion of an Irish-American railroad magnate and banker, bears silent testimony to this now often-overlooked facet of African-American associational life.
Words - Sean Griffin; Images - Leah Frances
In order of appearance - top to bottom, left to right:
1) Vision Pentecostal Church of God - 1050 Utica Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11203
2) Glorious Trinity Baptist Church - 285 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213
3) Up South Missionary Baptist Church - 553 Waverly Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
4) The Most Worshipful Enoch Grand Lodge of the Order of Masons - 423 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
5) The Almighty God Ministries International - 329 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
6) Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church - 228 Decatur St, Brooklyn, NY 11233
7) Church of God Victory - 658 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
8) South Brooklyn Seventh-day Adventist Church - 1313 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216-2928
9) Eastern District Grand Tent #3, Grand United Order of Tents - 87 MacDonough St, Brooklyn, NY 11216
10) Lovely Hill Baptist Church - 375 Throop Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
11) The Greater New Harvest Church of Christ - 210 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213
12) First AME Zion Church - 54 MacDonough St, Brooklyn, NY 11216
13) Bridge Street AME Church - 277 Stuyvesant Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
14) The Concord Baptist Church of Christ - 833 Gardner C. Taylor Boulevard (formerly Marcy Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11216
15) Grace Baptist Church - 1200 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
* * *
Sean Griffin is a Ph.D student in U.S. History at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Northeast Regional Guide Leah Frances was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com. 
Zoom Info
BLACK CHURCHES & FRATERNAL SOCIETIES - BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
The church has long been at the heart of African-American life in Brooklyn, once known as the “city of churches.” In the 1760s, Captain Thomas Webb, a British convert to Wesleyan Methodism, began holding outdoor services in downtown Brooklyn before purchasing land on Sands Street in 1794 for what would become the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn. The church was notable for its integrated white and black congregation, highly unusual for the time; however, African-American parishioners soon grew displeased with the discriminatory treatment they endured from the majority-white congregation. In 1818, blacks from the Sands Street church sent a delegation to Philadelphia to meet with Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in that city. After gaining recognition from the AME Church and the State of New York, the breakaway group founded the First African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church, later known as the Bridge Street Church after it moved to that locale in 1854. The present Bridge Street Church is located on Stuyvesant Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where it continues to be a vital part of the community.
During the Civil War, Brooklyn’s small free black population was given a boost by the exodus of African Americans from Manhattan following the notorious Draft Riots. Small black communities, clustered near the waterfront in Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Fort Greene, were gradually drawn further out to areas like “Crow Hill” (Crown Heights) and Weeksville, the latter being the speculative venture of James Weeks, an African-American real estate developer. Successive waves of migrants from the post-Emancipation South were followed by immigrants from the Caribbean after World War I. By the mid-twentieth century, de facto segregation, government policies, and “redlining” by banks and real estate agencies had combined to concentrate people of African descent in Central Brooklyn, particularly in the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
Church life continues to play a highly visible role in black Brooklyn, even as Bloomberg-era gentrification and high rents compound decades of neglect and threaten to displace older residents. While some of the images here—particularly those of the storefront churches which proliferated with the spread of various Pentacostal and Evangelical Protestant denominations—suggest a kind of picturesque decay, many congregations, such as Concord Street Baptist (founded 1847) and First AME Zion (1885) continue to thrive.
An interesting analogue to the black church has been the contemporaneous development of African-American fraternal societies, most famously the Prince Hall Freemasons, members of which continue to meet at the Enoch Grand Lodge on Nostrand Avenue (various Prince Hall lodges also utilize the larger Brooklyn Masonic Temple on Clermont Avenue in Fort Greene). Masonic insignia featuring the square and compass with the letter “G” abound on the building, seen in its stained glass and on its flagpole, and reflected on license-plate holders, window decals and the awning of a deli across the street. Founded by Prince Hall, a free African American who chartered an “African Lodge” during the Revolutionary War, the Prince Hall Masons formed part of a vital network linking antebellum free black communities, fostering close ties to the churches and taking an active part in antislavery agitation. In the Reconstruction South, black politicians and ministers organized Masonic lodges alongside AME churches and Republican Party clubs. Despite being excluded from the mainstream, whites-only iterations of fraternal societies, blacks formed their own lodges of Prince Hall Masons as well as of fraternal offshoots like the Odd-Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Order of the Eastern Star. Membership in these organizations exploded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as part of a general mania for secret societies and associations of all kinds. But for African Americans, the benevolent and charitable functions of these groups only grew in importance as segregation forced them to rely increasingly on institutions within their own communities for mutual aid and support.
One such organization, the all-female Grand United Order of Tents, was established in Norfolk, Virginia in 1866 by two former slaves, Annetta Lane and Harriet Taylor (the group may in fact have originated before the Civil War as part of the Underground Railroad organized to shelter runaway slaves). Their somewhat forlorn-looking former headquarters on MacDonough Street, in the former mansion of an Irish-American railroad magnate and banker, bears silent testimony to this now often-overlooked facet of African-American associational life.
Words - Sean Griffin; Images - Leah Frances
In order of appearance - top to bottom, left to right:
1) Vision Pentecostal Church of God - 1050 Utica Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11203
2) Glorious Trinity Baptist Church - 285 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213
3) Up South Missionary Baptist Church - 553 Waverly Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
4) The Most Worshipful Enoch Grand Lodge of the Order of Masons - 423 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
5) The Almighty God Ministries International - 329 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
6) Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church - 228 Decatur St, Brooklyn, NY 11233
7) Church of God Victory - 658 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
8) South Brooklyn Seventh-day Adventist Church - 1313 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216-2928
9) Eastern District Grand Tent #3, Grand United Order of Tents - 87 MacDonough St, Brooklyn, NY 11216
10) Lovely Hill Baptist Church - 375 Throop Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
11) The Greater New Harvest Church of Christ - 210 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213
12) First AME Zion Church - 54 MacDonough St, Brooklyn, NY 11216
13) Bridge Street AME Church - 277 Stuyvesant Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
14) The Concord Baptist Church of Christ - 833 Gardner C. Taylor Boulevard (formerly Marcy Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11216
15) Grace Baptist Church - 1200 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
* * *
Sean Griffin is a Ph.D student in U.S. History at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Northeast Regional Guide Leah Frances was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com. 
Zoom Info
BLACK CHURCHES & FRATERNAL SOCIETIES - BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
The church has long been at the heart of African-American life in Brooklyn, once known as the “city of churches.” In the 1760s, Captain Thomas Webb, a British convert to Wesleyan Methodism, began holding outdoor services in downtown Brooklyn before purchasing land on Sands Street in 1794 for what would become the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn. The church was notable for its integrated white and black congregation, highly unusual for the time; however, African-American parishioners soon grew displeased with the discriminatory treatment they endured from the majority-white congregation. In 1818, blacks from the Sands Street church sent a delegation to Philadelphia to meet with Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in that city. After gaining recognition from the AME Church and the State of New York, the breakaway group founded the First African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church, later known as the Bridge Street Church after it moved to that locale in 1854. The present Bridge Street Church is located on Stuyvesant Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where it continues to be a vital part of the community.
During the Civil War, Brooklyn’s small free black population was given a boost by the exodus of African Americans from Manhattan following the notorious Draft Riots. Small black communities, clustered near the waterfront in Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Fort Greene, were gradually drawn further out to areas like “Crow Hill” (Crown Heights) and Weeksville, the latter being the speculative venture of James Weeks, an African-American real estate developer. Successive waves of migrants from the post-Emancipation South were followed by immigrants from the Caribbean after World War I. By the mid-twentieth century, de facto segregation, government policies, and “redlining” by banks and real estate agencies had combined to concentrate people of African descent in Central Brooklyn, particularly in the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
Church life continues to play a highly visible role in black Brooklyn, even as Bloomberg-era gentrification and high rents compound decades of neglect and threaten to displace older residents. While some of the images here—particularly those of the storefront churches which proliferated with the spread of various Pentacostal and Evangelical Protestant denominations—suggest a kind of picturesque decay, many congregations, such as Concord Street Baptist (founded 1847) and First AME Zion (1885) continue to thrive.
An interesting analogue to the black church has been the contemporaneous development of African-American fraternal societies, most famously the Prince Hall Freemasons, members of which continue to meet at the Enoch Grand Lodge on Nostrand Avenue (various Prince Hall lodges also utilize the larger Brooklyn Masonic Temple on Clermont Avenue in Fort Greene). Masonic insignia featuring the square and compass with the letter “G” abound on the building, seen in its stained glass and on its flagpole, and reflected on license-plate holders, window decals and the awning of a deli across the street. Founded by Prince Hall, a free African American who chartered an “African Lodge” during the Revolutionary War, the Prince Hall Masons formed part of a vital network linking antebellum free black communities, fostering close ties to the churches and taking an active part in antislavery agitation. In the Reconstruction South, black politicians and ministers organized Masonic lodges alongside AME churches and Republican Party clubs. Despite being excluded from the mainstream, whites-only iterations of fraternal societies, blacks formed their own lodges of Prince Hall Masons as well as of fraternal offshoots like the Odd-Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Order of the Eastern Star. Membership in these organizations exploded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as part of a general mania for secret societies and associations of all kinds. But for African Americans, the benevolent and charitable functions of these groups only grew in importance as segregation forced them to rely increasingly on institutions within their own communities for mutual aid and support.
One such organization, the all-female Grand United Order of Tents, was established in Norfolk, Virginia in 1866 by two former slaves, Annetta Lane and Harriet Taylor (the group may in fact have originated before the Civil War as part of the Underground Railroad organized to shelter runaway slaves). Their somewhat forlorn-looking former headquarters on MacDonough Street, in the former mansion of an Irish-American railroad magnate and banker, bears silent testimony to this now often-overlooked facet of African-American associational life.
Words - Sean Griffin; Images - Leah Frances
In order of appearance - top to bottom, left to right:
1) Vision Pentecostal Church of God - 1050 Utica Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11203
2) Glorious Trinity Baptist Church - 285 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213
3) Up South Missionary Baptist Church - 553 Waverly Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
4) The Most Worshipful Enoch Grand Lodge of the Order of Masons - 423 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
5) The Almighty God Ministries International - 329 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
6) Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church - 228 Decatur St, Brooklyn, NY 11233
7) Church of God Victory - 658 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
8) South Brooklyn Seventh-day Adventist Church - 1313 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216-2928
9) Eastern District Grand Tent #3, Grand United Order of Tents - 87 MacDonough St, Brooklyn, NY 11216
10) Lovely Hill Baptist Church - 375 Throop Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
11) The Greater New Harvest Church of Christ - 210 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213
12) First AME Zion Church - 54 MacDonough St, Brooklyn, NY 11216
13) Bridge Street AME Church - 277 Stuyvesant Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
14) The Concord Baptist Church of Christ - 833 Gardner C. Taylor Boulevard (formerly Marcy Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11216
15) Grace Baptist Church - 1200 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
* * *
Sean Griffin is a Ph.D student in U.S. History at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Northeast Regional Guide Leah Frances was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com. 
Zoom Info
BLACK CHURCHES & FRATERNAL SOCIETIES - BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
The church has long been at the heart of African-American life in Brooklyn, once known as the “city of churches.” In the 1760s, Captain Thomas Webb, a British convert to Wesleyan Methodism, began holding outdoor services in downtown Brooklyn before purchasing land on Sands Street in 1794 for what would become the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn. The church was notable for its integrated white and black congregation, highly unusual for the time; however, African-American parishioners soon grew displeased with the discriminatory treatment they endured from the majority-white congregation. In 1818, blacks from the Sands Street church sent a delegation to Philadelphia to meet with Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in that city. After gaining recognition from the AME Church and the State of New York, the breakaway group founded the First African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church, later known as the Bridge Street Church after it moved to that locale in 1854. The present Bridge Street Church is located on Stuyvesant Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where it continues to be a vital part of the community.
During the Civil War, Brooklyn’s small free black population was given a boost by the exodus of African Americans from Manhattan following the notorious Draft Riots. Small black communities, clustered near the waterfront in Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Fort Greene, were gradually drawn further out to areas like “Crow Hill” (Crown Heights) and Weeksville, the latter being the speculative venture of James Weeks, an African-American real estate developer. Successive waves of migrants from the post-Emancipation South were followed by immigrants from the Caribbean after World War I. By the mid-twentieth century, de facto segregation, government policies, and “redlining” by banks and real estate agencies had combined to concentrate people of African descent in Central Brooklyn, particularly in the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
Church life continues to play a highly visible role in black Brooklyn, even as Bloomberg-era gentrification and high rents compound decades of neglect and threaten to displace older residents. While some of the images here—particularly those of the storefront churches which proliferated with the spread of various Pentacostal and Evangelical Protestant denominations—suggest a kind of picturesque decay, many congregations, such as Concord Street Baptist (founded 1847) and First AME Zion (1885) continue to thrive.
An interesting analogue to the black church has been the contemporaneous development of African-American fraternal societies, most famously the Prince Hall Freemasons, members of which continue to meet at the Enoch Grand Lodge on Nostrand Avenue (various Prince Hall lodges also utilize the larger Brooklyn Masonic Temple on Clermont Avenue in Fort Greene). Masonic insignia featuring the square and compass with the letter “G” abound on the building, seen in its stained glass and on its flagpole, and reflected on license-plate holders, window decals and the awning of a deli across the street. Founded by Prince Hall, a free African American who chartered an “African Lodge” during the Revolutionary War, the Prince Hall Masons formed part of a vital network linking antebellum free black communities, fostering close ties to the churches and taking an active part in antislavery agitation. In the Reconstruction South, black politicians and ministers organized Masonic lodges alongside AME churches and Republican Party clubs. Despite being excluded from the mainstream, whites-only iterations of fraternal societies, blacks formed their own lodges of Prince Hall Masons as well as of fraternal offshoots like the Odd-Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Order of the Eastern Star. Membership in these organizations exploded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as part of a general mania for secret societies and associations of all kinds. But for African Americans, the benevolent and charitable functions of these groups only grew in importance as segregation forced them to rely increasingly on institutions within their own communities for mutual aid and support.
One such organization, the all-female Grand United Order of Tents, was established in Norfolk, Virginia in 1866 by two former slaves, Annetta Lane and Harriet Taylor (the group may in fact have originated before the Civil War as part of the Underground Railroad organized to shelter runaway slaves). Their somewhat forlorn-looking former headquarters on MacDonough Street, in the former mansion of an Irish-American railroad magnate and banker, bears silent testimony to this now often-overlooked facet of African-American associational life.
Words - Sean Griffin; Images - Leah Frances
In order of appearance - top to bottom, left to right:
1) Vision Pentecostal Church of God - 1050 Utica Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11203
2) Glorious Trinity Baptist Church - 285 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213
3) Up South Missionary Baptist Church - 553 Waverly Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
4) The Most Worshipful Enoch Grand Lodge of the Order of Masons - 423 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
5) The Almighty God Ministries International - 329 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
6) Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church - 228 Decatur St, Brooklyn, NY 11233
7) Church of God Victory - 658 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
8) South Brooklyn Seventh-day Adventist Church - 1313 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216-2928
9) Eastern District Grand Tent #3, Grand United Order of Tents - 87 MacDonough St, Brooklyn, NY 11216
10) Lovely Hill Baptist Church - 375 Throop Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
11) The Greater New Harvest Church of Christ - 210 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213
12) First AME Zion Church - 54 MacDonough St, Brooklyn, NY 11216
13) Bridge Street AME Church - 277 Stuyvesant Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
14) The Concord Baptist Church of Christ - 833 Gardner C. Taylor Boulevard (formerly Marcy Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11216
15) Grace Baptist Church - 1200 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
* * *
Sean Griffin is a Ph.D student in U.S. History at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Northeast Regional Guide Leah Frances was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com. 
Zoom Info
BLACK CHURCHES & FRATERNAL SOCIETIES - BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
The church has long been at the heart of African-American life in Brooklyn, once known as the “city of churches.” In the 1760s, Captain Thomas Webb, a British convert to Wesleyan Methodism, began holding outdoor services in downtown Brooklyn before purchasing land on Sands Street in 1794 for what would become the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn. The church was notable for its integrated white and black congregation, highly unusual for the time; however, African-American parishioners soon grew displeased with the discriminatory treatment they endured from the majority-white congregation. In 1818, blacks from the Sands Street church sent a delegation to Philadelphia to meet with Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in that city. After gaining recognition from the AME Church and the State of New York, the breakaway group founded the First African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church, later known as the Bridge Street Church after it moved to that locale in 1854. The present Bridge Street Church is located on Stuyvesant Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where it continues to be a vital part of the community.
During the Civil War, Brooklyn’s small free black population was given a boost by the exodus of African Americans from Manhattan following the notorious Draft Riots. Small black communities, clustered near the waterfront in Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Fort Greene, were gradually drawn further out to areas like “Crow Hill” (Crown Heights) and Weeksville, the latter being the speculative venture of James Weeks, an African-American real estate developer. Successive waves of migrants from the post-Emancipation South were followed by immigrants from the Caribbean after World War I. By the mid-twentieth century, de facto segregation, government policies, and “redlining” by banks and real estate agencies had combined to concentrate people of African descent in Central Brooklyn, particularly in the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
Church life continues to play a highly visible role in black Brooklyn, even as Bloomberg-era gentrification and high rents compound decades of neglect and threaten to displace older residents. While some of the images here—particularly those of the storefront churches which proliferated with the spread of various Pentacostal and Evangelical Protestant denominations—suggest a kind of picturesque decay, many congregations, such as Concord Street Baptist (founded 1847) and First AME Zion (1885) continue to thrive.
An interesting analogue to the black church has been the contemporaneous development of African-American fraternal societies, most famously the Prince Hall Freemasons, members of which continue to meet at the Enoch Grand Lodge on Nostrand Avenue (various Prince Hall lodges also utilize the larger Brooklyn Masonic Temple on Clermont Avenue in Fort Greene). Masonic insignia featuring the square and compass with the letter “G” abound on the building, seen in its stained glass and on its flagpole, and reflected on license-plate holders, window decals and the awning of a deli across the street. Founded by Prince Hall, a free African American who chartered an “African Lodge” during the Revolutionary War, the Prince Hall Masons formed part of a vital network linking antebellum free black communities, fostering close ties to the churches and taking an active part in antislavery agitation. In the Reconstruction South, black politicians and ministers organized Masonic lodges alongside AME churches and Republican Party clubs. Despite being excluded from the mainstream, whites-only iterations of fraternal societies, blacks formed their own lodges of Prince Hall Masons as well as of fraternal offshoots like the Odd-Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Order of the Eastern Star. Membership in these organizations exploded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as part of a general mania for secret societies and associations of all kinds. But for African Americans, the benevolent and charitable functions of these groups only grew in importance as segregation forced them to rely increasingly on institutions within their own communities for mutual aid and support.
One such organization, the all-female Grand United Order of Tents, was established in Norfolk, Virginia in 1866 by two former slaves, Annetta Lane and Harriet Taylor (the group may in fact have originated before the Civil War as part of the Underground Railroad organized to shelter runaway slaves). Their somewhat forlorn-looking former headquarters on MacDonough Street, in the former mansion of an Irish-American railroad magnate and banker, bears silent testimony to this now often-overlooked facet of African-American associational life.
Words - Sean Griffin; Images - Leah Frances
In order of appearance - top to bottom, left to right:
1) Vision Pentecostal Church of God - 1050 Utica Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11203
2) Glorious Trinity Baptist Church - 285 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213
3) Up South Missionary Baptist Church - 553 Waverly Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
4) The Most Worshipful Enoch Grand Lodge of the Order of Masons - 423 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
5) The Almighty God Ministries International - 329 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
6) Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church - 228 Decatur St, Brooklyn, NY 11233
7) Church of God Victory - 658 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238
8) South Brooklyn Seventh-day Adventist Church - 1313 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216-2928
9) Eastern District Grand Tent #3, Grand United Order of Tents - 87 MacDonough St, Brooklyn, NY 11216
10) Lovely Hill Baptist Church - 375 Throop Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
11) The Greater New Harvest Church of Christ - 210 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213
12) First AME Zion Church - 54 MacDonough St, Brooklyn, NY 11216
13) Bridge Street AME Church - 277 Stuyvesant Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221
14) The Concord Baptist Church of Christ - 833 Gardner C. Taylor Boulevard (formerly Marcy Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11216
15) Grace Baptist Church - 1200 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216
* * *
Sean Griffin is a Ph.D student in U.S. History at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Northeast Regional Guide Leah Frances was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com. 
Zoom Info

BLACK CHURCHES & FRATERNAL SOCIETIES - BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

The church has long been at the heart of African-American life in Brooklyn, once known as the “city of churches.” In the 1760s, Captain Thomas Webb, a British convert to Wesleyan Methodism, began holding outdoor services in downtown Brooklyn before purchasing land on Sands Street in 1794 for what would become the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Brooklyn. The church was notable for its integrated white and black congregation, highly unusual for the time; however, African-American parishioners soon grew displeased with the discriminatory treatment they endured from the majority-white congregation. In 1818, blacks from the Sands Street church sent a delegation to Philadelphia to meet with Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in that city. After gaining recognition from the AME Church and the State of New York, the breakaway group founded the First African Wesleyan Methodist Episcopal Church, later known as the Bridge Street Church after it moved to that locale in 1854. The present Bridge Street Church is located on Stuyvesant Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, where it continues to be a vital part of the community.

During the Civil War, Brooklyn’s small free black population was given a boost by the exodus of African Americans from Manhattan following the notorious Draft Riots. Small black communities, clustered near the waterfront in Downtown Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Fort Greene, were gradually drawn further out to areas like “Crow Hill” (Crown Heights) and Weeksville, the latter being the speculative venture of James Weeks, an African-American real estate developer. Successive waves of migrants from the post-Emancipation South were followed by immigrants from the Caribbean after World War I. By the mid-twentieth century, de facto segregation, government policies, and “redlining” by banks and real estate agencies had combined to concentrate people of African descent in Central Brooklyn, particularly in the neighborhoods of Fort Greene, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.

Church life continues to play a highly visible role in black Brooklyn, even as Bloomberg-era gentrification and high rents compound decades of neglect and threaten to displace older residents. While some of the images here—particularly those of the storefront churches which proliferated with the spread of various Pentacostal and Evangelical Protestant denominations—suggest a kind of picturesque decay, many congregations, such as Concord Street Baptist (founded 1847) and First AME Zion (1885) continue to thrive.

An interesting analogue to the black church has been the contemporaneous development of African-American fraternal societies, most famously the Prince Hall Freemasons, members of which continue to meet at the Enoch Grand Lodge on Nostrand Avenue (various Prince Hall lodges also utilize the larger Brooklyn Masonic Temple on Clermont Avenue in Fort Greene). Masonic insignia featuring the square and compass with the letter “G” abound on the building, seen in its stained glass and on its flagpole, and reflected on license-plate holders, window decals and the awning of a deli across the street. Founded by Prince Hall, a free African American who chartered an “African Lodge” during the Revolutionary War, the Prince Hall Masons formed part of a vital network linking antebellum free black communities, fostering close ties to the churches and taking an active part in antislavery agitation. In the Reconstruction South, black politicians and ministers organized Masonic lodges alongside AME churches and Republican Party clubs. Despite being excluded from the mainstream, whites-only iterations of fraternal societies, blacks formed their own lodges of Prince Hall Masons as well as of fraternal offshoots like the Odd-Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and the Order of the Eastern Star. Membership in these organizations exploded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as part of a general mania for secret societies and associations of all kinds. But for African Americans, the benevolent and charitable functions of these groups only grew in importance as segregation forced them to rely increasingly on institutions within their own communities for mutual aid and support.

One such organization, the all-female Grand United Order of Tents, was established in Norfolk, Virginia in 1866 by two former slaves, Annetta Lane and Harriet Taylor (the group may in fact have originated before the Civil War as part of the Underground Railroad organized to shelter runaway slaves). Their somewhat forlorn-looking former headquarters on MacDonough Street, in the former mansion of an Irish-American railroad magnate and banker, bears silent testimony to this now often-overlooked facet of African-American associational life.

Words - Sean Griffin; Images - Leah Frances

In order of appearance - top to bottom, left to right:

1) Vision Pentecostal Church of God - 1050 Utica Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11203

2) Glorious Trinity Baptist Church - 285 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213

3) Up South Missionary Baptist Church - 553 Waverly Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

4) The Most Worshipful Enoch Grand Lodge of the Order of Masons - 423 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

5) The Almighty God Ministries International - 329 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

6) Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church - 228 Decatur St, Brooklyn, NY 11233

7) Church of God Victory - 658 Washington Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

8) South Brooklyn Seventh-day Adventist Church - 1313 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216-2928

9) Eastern District Grand Tent #3, Grand United Order of Tents - 87 MacDonough St, Brooklyn, NY 11216

10) Lovely Hill Baptist Church - 375 Throop Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221

11) The Greater New Harvest Church of Christ - 210 Kingston Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11213

12) First AME Zion Church - 54 MacDonough St, Brooklyn, NY 11216

13) Bridge Street AME Church - 277 Stuyvesant Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11221

14) The Concord Baptist Church of Christ - 833 Gardner C. Taylor Boulevard (formerly Marcy Avenue), Brooklyn, NY 11216

15) Grace Baptist Church - 1200 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11216

* * *

Sean Griffin is a Ph.D student in U.S. History at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

Northeast Regional Guide Leah Frances was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.