All Articles Tagged "central park"
Every now and then, history finds a way to come back around and set the record straight. Such is the case with the story of Seneca Village, a short-lived African American community that was destroyed to build New York’s Central Park in the 1850s. A band of professors and students formed the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History and have begun digging in an area of the park to uncover remnants from one of the flagship – and forgotten – ex-slave communities in the nation.
Until now, historical records falsely described Seneca Village – established a few years before slavery was abolished in New York – as “a squatter camp,” but it was actually made up of working and middle-class property owners, The New York Times reports. “This is the most formal, coherent community that we know of, because it was laid out in a grid pattern and had three churches and schools,” Nan A. Rothschild, an anthropologist, told the Times.
Vestiges of the old community remain buried beneath Central Park, but eight weeks into the digging, anthropologists have uncovered an iron tea kettle, jar lids, a roasting pan, toothbrushes made from bone, a leather shoe, a stoneware beer bottle, fragments of Chinese export porcelain and the yard area of a resident who lived in a three-story wood-frame house.
“The vast array of materials that we uncovered really gives us a true sense of a strong, stable community,” Cynthia R. Copeland, a member of the research team, said. Soon, many of the pieces of that strong community will be on display in a museum exhibit, and an open house at the site in Central Park is planned for October 25.
History indeed has a way of correcting itself.
(New York Times) — For more than a decade, anthropologists and historians pieced together the history of a short-lived African-American community that was snuffed out in the 1850s by the creation of Central Park. They combed vital records and tax documents, scanned parkland using radar and studied soil borings. But because the vestiges of the community were buried beneath the park, the leaders of the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History — a consortium of three professors from City College, Barnard College and New York University — were kept from doing the one thing that would open a window onto the daily existence of the some 260 residents: digging. That all changed eight weeks ago, after they won permission from the city to excavate in an area of the park near 85th Street and Central Park West.