Project the image of Donna Dennis’ Dreaming of Far Away Places, the Ships Come to Washington Market. Discuss with students what the work depicts, and the relation between the work and location of the school. Often times new buildings are put up, streets are paved, and parks installed in locations where something else once was. The users of these places have little idea about once was there and are often unaware of their building’s history.
Show students maps of their school’s location throughout time. (The Map Room at the New York Public Library has an excellent collection, and you should be able to find maps representing your school’s neighborhood.) The New York Historical Society, Queen’s Historical Society, Bronx Historical Society, and the Brooklyn Historical Society are excellent sources for information as well ( in Staten Island check the NYPL site dedicated to Staten Island). Discuss the history of the school’s location and how it has changed over time. Have students develop proposals for their school building that would also remind it’s users about what the landscape looked like or some aspect of its history that most don’t think about on a day to day basis.