African Burial Ground

Laura Duran

African cemetery in the time of slavery in New York

Borough: Manhattan

Location: 290 Broadway in Lower Manhattan

City: Manhattan  Postal Code: 10007

Dating back to the late 17th and 18th centuries, the African Burial Ground is the first national monument to commemorate the enslaved people from Africa and their descents. African slaves used this 6.6 acres of land as a cemetery, which was called by the English and Dutch as “The Negroes Burying Ground”. The slaves used these grounds to bury their family members and friends and to show them respect, and preserve their culture during the colonial era. This piece of land was given to the slaves outside their colonial areas of New Amsterdam known today as New York. As a result, the African Burial Ground is located in 290 Broadway in Lower Manhattan (GSA).

Early History

In 1626, when the Africans came for the first time to New Amsterdam, they brought their own customs and traditions from different parts of West and Central Africa. This territory was under control of the Dutch.  By 1643, the Dutch gave this piece of parcel to their African slaves as way of gratification known as the African slaves “half freedom.” By 1664, the African slaves become one of the highest populations of this area. In addition, it was one of the largest English’s settlements. As a result of this new colonization African American slaves were stripped of their land, and taking away to the South to be sold. According to Hansen Joyce & McGowan Gary’s Breaking Ground, “Breaking silence; the story of New York’s African Burial Ground”, for an estimate of 100-150 years, ending in 1794, the African Burial Ground was a place where Africans could bury their loved ones with care, maintain and preserve the cultures they brought to this shore. Here they could pray to the ancestors they revered. Approximately 15,000 free and enslaved Africans were buried in 6.6 acre burial ground that dates from the 17th century.

Modern Times

Lost into history due to landfill and development, the grounds were rediscovered in 1991 as a consequence of the planned construction of a Federal office building. During its rediscovery, the wooden grave markers that identified the burials had deteriorated, leaving scholars incapable of identifying the individuals who were buried here. The African Burial Ground is the newest National Monument in New York City, joining the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and CastleClintonNational Monument; it is the 21st century National Historic landmark. In 1993, it became one of the National Historic Landmarks due to its exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the African American heritage of the United States. On February 27, 2006, President George W. Bush named the African Burial Ground a National Monument (National Park Service).The African Burial Ground is an important national monument because it shows about Africans and African Americans lives during slavery.

The Monument

Now the memorial features a visitor’s center, small theater, shop and exhibits. The memorial is located behind the Ted Weiss Federal Building at the corner of Duane Street and African Burial Ground Way (Elk Street). There are no restrooms located outside at the memorial. Food, beverages, and gum are not allowed in the memorial. Food services are available in the surrounding area. At the memorial, you’ll be able to explore some of the skeletal remains and artifacts found there. A visitor center, 40-person theater and bookstore makes the experience dynamic and complete.


Hansen Joyce & McGowan Gary: Breaking Ground, Breaking silence; the story of New York’s African Burial Ground. Publisher: Henry Holt Date: April 1st, 1998 Place: 115 West 18th street NY, NY.

This book will provide information about how this place was found and what the archaeologists did to recover this important part of the history during the time of slavery in New York and it will useful for my research paper.

Blakey, Michael: “Museum International” Article, volume 62, Issue 1/2, p 61-68.8p. 

     Argue about the 17th and 18th centuries enslave cemetery in New York.

“African Burial Ground”. Maap.

Contest about the African Burial Ground.

Longtainet: The African Burial Ground: An American Discovery, Documentary.

It gives information about how was slavery in New York.

This web provides a clear understanding about African Burial Ground.

It has information relative with monument.


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