In the mid 19th century, New York decided a park was needed to appease the needs of a largely affluent group of people that were in need of a “fashionable and safe public place” for their families. So in 1855, the city chose Seneca Village, a stretch of land along the Hudson River located between 82nd and 89th Streets and Seventh and Eighth Avenues. Seneca Village had a population of 264 and existed from 1825 to 1857 in the area now known as Central Park. The area may very well have been “Manhattan’s first prominent community of African American property owners”.
By the 1850’s, black people in this community were 39 times more likely to own property than their counterparts, and lived harmoniously with Irish and German immigrants. Residents protested the actions proposed as well as the paltry amounts they were being offered as compensation, but their requests fell on deaf ears.
The city seized the land under the law of eminent domain and the ENTIRE community was razed and completely destroyed. Nothing more was heard about this story until a book chronicling the events was published in 1992, and again when the Seneca Village project was created and began excavations of the land in 2011.
You can check out a pretty detailed article on Seneca Village here.
Never forget how Central Park came to be.
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