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Before Central Park there was Seneca Village | Secrets of the Dead | PBS

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Before Central Park became synonymous with New York City, Seneca Village was a thriving upper Manhattan community.

Seneca Village existed between 1825 and 1857. In 1855, there were more than 200 residents, a population that consisted of African Americans, Irish immigrants, and a small number of German immigrants. There were over 50 homes in Seneca Village, three churches, and a school. For Black property owners, Seneca Village provided residential stability and an investment in the future; an incentive to owning property at the time was that it gave African Americans the right to vote.

When the City decided to build Central Park, it used eminent domain to acquire the land. Some Seneca Village residents were compensated for their property and had to leave by 1857. After they dispersed, all traces of the settlement were lost to history. In 2011, a group called the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History conducted an excavation at the site that uncovered stone foundation walls and thousands of artifacts from residents that offer valuable clues to better understanding this extraordinary community.

Enjoy a closer look at the history and legacy of Seneca Village, Manhattan.

To learn more about Seneca Village and the rich cultural history of New York City, visit the Seneca Village Project, the New York Preservation Archive Project, and the Central Park Conservancy.

Special thanks to:
The Central Park Conservancy
The New York Preservation Archive Project
The Seneca Village Project
Cynthia Copeland
Marie Warsh
Simone Silverbush
Dr. Prithi Kanakamedala

Image Credits:
The Central Park Conservancy
The New York Preservation Archive Project
The Seneca Village Project
New York City Municipal Archives
New York Public Library
Library of Congress
Impossible Factual

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Knotty 1 month ago

Back then, black Americans knew they roots were from Africa and Identified it in their churches names. Today, a lot of black Americans denied their African roots.

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