Photo of the Week: West Indian Carnival

[Performers at West Indian Carnival], 1994, 2010.019, West Indian Carnival Documentation Project records; Brooklyn Historical Society.

[Performers at West Indian Carnival], 1994, 2010.019, West Indian Carnival Documentation Project records; Brooklyn Historical Society.

Now in its 50th year, the West Indian Carnival in Brooklyn is one of the largest outdoor street festivals in North America. The West Indian Carnival tradition in New York City stems from private gatherings and parties held in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan in the 1920s, typically in February. In the 1940s, an outdoor street festival began taking place on 7th Avenue in Harlem, organized by Trinidadian Jessie Wattle. In the mid-1960s, organizers moved the Carnival to Brooklyn; and in 1967, they founded West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) and held the Carnival on Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Activities begin on the Thursday before Labor Day and conclude on Monday with the parade on Eastern Parkway. The parade includes colorful and elaborate costumes, music, food vendors, and crowds gathered to celebrate pan-Caribbean culture in Brooklyn.

The photo of the week depicts performers at the 1994 West Indian Carnival. This photograph by Dwan Reece King is part of the West Indian Carnival Documentation Project records comprised of photographs, oral histories, publications, and ephemera related to the Carnival and project. In 1994, Brooklyn Historical Society launched the West Indian Carnival Documentation project to gather personal narratives and life histories of Carnival participants. The project culminated in an exhibition at BHS. The oral histories from this collection are digitized and available at our Oral History Portal.

Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. library@brooklynhistory.org

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