“Controversial” Black History Murals Restored in Harlem

09.17.12 Marshall Katheder

Dilapidated Depression-era murals, which were splashed up on the Harlem Hospital Center as part of the Works Progress Administration, will be injected with new life.

According to The New York Times, in 1936 the WPA commissioned seven artists to sketch the lives of African Americans at various points in history. Initially, the hospital was reluctant to allow those drawings to be blown up into large-scale murals; the bureaucrats in charge felt its subject was too “Negro” and would look out of place when the neighborhood gets gentrified. Righteous protests followed, and the HHC backed down.

After many hard Harlem decades, the murals had worn away or been otherwise covered up.
But NYC’s Public Design Commission oversaw an exhaustive, multi-million dollar restoration. The refreshed art is on prominent display at a new patient pavilion that is slated to open September 27th. (Image: Yekkes/Flickr)