In commemoration of Black History Month, let’s take a brief look at the history of Seneca Village, the first significant community of African American property owners in Manhattan. Seneca Village existed in the area between 82nd to 85th street along Central Park West from 1825-1857, before the development of Central Park. Subsequently it was taken over via buyouts, and eventually in 1857 the city government acquired all private property within Seneca Village through eminent domain. After its destruction, the public memory of Seneca Village was forgotten for over a century. Then in 1998, The Seneca Village Project was formed to raise awareness about Seneca Village’s significance as a free, middle-class black community in 19th century New York City. Numerous tests, digs and excavations have taken place since 2005, successfully locating traces of Seneca Village and putting the pieces together.
Next time you find yourself in that area, take a moment to reflect. To learn more visit http://www.mcah.columbia.edu/seneca_village/
Photo is of the Ross Pinetum, where Seneca Village was partially located.