Harlem’s Apollo Theater has teamed with Columbia University to create an oral history of the world-famous landmark, a move done amidst controversy that the school’s expansion is threatening the solidarity of the surrounding Harlem neighborhood.
The project, described as “an effort to spotlight and safeguard one of New York’s most important cultural institutions,” is planned for the theater’s 75th anniversary in 2009 and will include online and on-site exhibitions, an educational program for public school students and an archive of audio and video interviews with Apollo performers such as Smokey Robinson, Leslie Uggams and Fred Wesley, reports Variety.
Columbia has announced plans to expand uptown from its 120th Street borders, building $6.3 billion worth of new facilities between W. 125th Street (just west of the Apollo) and W. 134th over the next 25 years.
Local residents are dreading the inevitable uptick in prices, and individual businesses have been hurried out of the 17-acre area, which the Empire State Development Corp. declared blighted in July, making way for the expansion.
Columbia president Lee Bollinger has stated his intent to keep the community involved in the process, and the university estimates that the new campus will create some 6,000 new jobs in the area.