Broadway, a vicinity located within City Hall. Federal courts and
offices reside in this area of downtown Manhattan. Judges and lawyers
constantly roam the streets. It is not uncommon to find a swarm
of reporters covering some of the biggest stories of the day. About
ten years ago, 290 Broadway did not stick out in any way. Today,
it is the center of one of the most important archaeological discovers
of this century, an African Burial Ground.
The discovery of the forgotten African Burial Ground occurred during
an archaeological study in June 1991. This discovery brought to
light a piece of lost history and facts missing from numerous textbooks.
This history begins with some of the first settlers in North America.
The first Africans arrivals in 1626 were captives taken from West
and Central Africa. By the time the British began to colonize New
Amsterdam, Africans made up 40 percent of the population. When they
first arrived they were given small areas of farmland outside the
city walls. The area they were given is now one of the richest properties
in the world, City Hall.
The piece of land was used as a cemetery. Since the land was near
water it allowed African captives to keep their traditional burial
practices alive (burying their dead by the water continued the common
idea of combining cemeteries with water). The area was also away
from their settlement, providing privacy. Burials were the only
time when slaves were allowed to gather alone, after dark and in
large groups outside acres.
the years the burial ground was in use, five to six acres were filled
up with as many as 20,000 people. Some of those people were sentenced
to death for plotting against the government. The idea of slaves
rebelling worried slave owners. African Burials were looked at as
a problem because of the privacy they gave slaves. In 1731, with
the British worried about African uprisings, they passed laws making
African burials occur during the day and with a restricted amount
of people attending.
As the years passed the burial ground was forgotten. The land above
it turned into one of the most valuable properties in the world
and the center of law for New York City. The African Burial ground
was disrupted in many ways since the usage of it stopped. For example,
is how medical students took bodies from the burial ground and used
them in dissections. In 1991 construction workers removed over 400
bodies, outraging many people about the ways things were being handle
concerning the scared site. Since then programs have brought awareness
to and protection of the burial ground.
The African Burial Ground provides evidence that there was a large
presence of African Americans in colonial New York. Since the burial
ground discovery there have been several art and research projects
surrounding it. 290 Broadway office building have acted as the center
of these projects for years. These projects have focus around making
people aware of the history African Americans were a part of, beginning
from the 1600s. They are a way of attracting people to a burial
ground that were lost for so long.
information on this topic go to:
THE AFRICAN BURIAL GROUND IN NEW YORK CITY