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Welcome to the 4th Ward History Project!

a community effort to discover and preserve the history of Raleigh's historic 4th Ward neighborhood

Starting in the mid 1800's,
in the South-West quadrant of the original City of Raleigh street grid, there existed a thriving African American community of known as the 4th Ward. Most of the original neighborhood has disappeared, and little of its history has been written down. In 2008, the Rosengarten Park of the 4th Ward Neighborhood Restoration Project began restoring the last remaining homes of the Fourth Ward. As the project progressed, it became clear that the history of the area was in need of documentation and preservation also, and the 4th Ward History Project was formed. It is an ongoing project that is loosely based in three categories, People, Places, Events. Click on the pictures below to see what we have discovered so far.
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PEOPLE
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PLACES
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EVENTS

Founding of the 4th Ward
This community in the heart of downtown Raleigh was created and populated by African Americans prior to the civil war. Its growth accelerated after the Emancipation Proclamation when Jim Crow laws prevented Raleigh's black residents from living in the adjacent neighborhoods. A vibrant neighborhood evolved to include more then 600 homes, with dozens of shops, several churches and schools. The community produced many prominent individuals and fostered the education and independence of generations of Raleigh citizens.
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1872 Birds Eye Etching Showing the 4th Ward

Loss to Urban Renewal programs
In the 1970's the vast majority of the 4th ward was demolished as part a nationwide Urban Renewal movement that unfortunately undervalued the historic areas in many cities, especially in those areas predominately occupied by African Americans.

Renewed Interest in the 4th Ward
Recently demographic changes have created a new interest in urban living and a new appreciation for the small, densely built homes that made an independent downtown lifesyle a reality for middle class families. While the homes that still exist are being preserved and restored it has become apparent that the history of this area is also in need of preservation. Little of the history has been written down, only a few people remain who can remember the area in its heyday. With that in mind we are reaching out to community members and scholars in an attempt to discover and preserve as much of the history as possible.

Join the Project
We have received great interest and support for the project, please take a look around. If you have any information regarding any of the people, places, or events in the area, please join us and add your knowledge to the project.

References

Photos

[1] E.A. Johnson, from Culture Town Life in Raleigh's African American Communities, Simmons-Henry, Linda
[2] First Congregational Church, from Culture Town Life in Raleigh's African American Communities, Simmons-Henry, Linda
[3] Emancipation Pamplet, unknown
[4] Bird's eye view of the city of Raleigh, North Carolina 1872. Drawn and published by C. Drie, Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington