“Another African Burial Ground was officially “discovered” in New York City a few days ago. If this is news to most, it is not to preservationists, historians, and archivists who have been aware of the existence of the cemetery for years….
“The story of the Harlem Burial Ground began in 1658 when Governor Peter Stuyvesant ordered enslaved Africans to build a nine-mile road from lower Manhattan to the city known then as Nieuw Haarlem. Seven years later the residents erected the First Reformed Low Dutch Church of Harlem (future Elmendorf Reformed Church) at First Avenue and 127th Street and a quarter acre of land was reserved for a “Negro Burying Ground.”
Free and enslaved African Americans were buried there through the mid-19th century; however in 1853, the land was offered to the highest bidder and sold for $3,000. A casino, and later film studios, were erected on the site before it was ceded to the MTA…
…the remains of Jane Anthony, Herman Canon, Franklin Butler, Margaret Walker and the close to forty people of African descent whose names have been identified still rest under the concrete, the pipes and the earth….”
Read the full essay: The Harlem Burial Ground | The New York Public Library
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