19th-c. African-American village unearthed in what is now NYC's Central Park

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24 Responses to “19th-c. African-American village unearthed in what is now NYC's Central Park”

  1. You moved the cemetery, but you left the bodies, didn’t you? You son of a
    bitch, you left the bodies and you only moved the headstones!
    You-only-moved-the-headstones!

  2. s2redux says:

    Looks like reverse-redlining was alive and well back in the 1840s…. the Lane site (Irish, “house”, rented, 178.22 sq meters) was valued at $500; the Allen site (African-American, “shanty”, rented, 93.93 sq meters) was also valued at $500. No “Euro-American” (i.e. “good whites” ;-) rentals listed for further comparison.

    • dragonfrog says:

      Wow, that’s a might big “shanty” – a fair bit bigger than my house.

      • s2redux says:

        I couldn’t find a unit of measurement on the “interactive map” page, but since the lengths were expressed in decimal I presumed meters. (Plus, the Midwestern-optimist in me really wanted to hope that 7 folks (one of them a boarder) weren’t all slammed into a 10.1′ x 9.3′ box, contemporary uptown “efficiencies” notwithstanding ;-)

  3. woodly says:

    Honestly, the first thing that I thought of when I read of the digging in Central Park was the Seinfeld episode with “Fragile” Frankie Merman.  Perhaps the archaeologists are the scene are van guys?

  4. DewiMorgan says:

    I like how the US treats stuff only a few decades old as important and historical. Like this, or the Smithsonian’s understanding that stuff *right now* is historical, and important to preserve for posterity.

    With that kind of attitude, they’ve got a fighting chance of preserving more than just potsherds, and actually learning from history. The UK could stand to learn a bit, there, I think. We get kinda snooty about stuff unless it’s at least a few centuries old. And potsherds aren’t considered interesting unless they’re roman or older.

    • Jonathan Badger says:

      Well, you know the old saying about the difference between America and Europe: In Europe a hundred miles is a long way, and in America a hundred years is a long time.

    • Correct.  In the UK, the Victorians destroyed many (most) of the interesting features of London, not sure how successful they were in the rest of the UK.  Having said that, dig under a city and it will be bones (not Turtles) all the way down.

      We are not only standing upon the shoulders of giants, we are walking upon the bones of our ancestors.  (cc commons)  

    • Bill Houle says:

      I once stayed in a Cornwall timeshare, and the proprietors were “gobsmacked” that we drove out from London in one day. That’s the difference between US and UK. To many Brits, 200 miles is a long journey but 200 years is no big deal. An American would say the opposite.

  5. Jonathan Badger says:

    Kevin Baker’s historical novel “Paradise Alley” (not to be confused with the Silvester Stallone film of the same name which gets more Google hits) deals with Seneca Village and mixed-race families there if people are interested.

  6. Tim Quinn says:

    I think if you go anywhere and dig a big rectangular hole with a spoon and a brush you will find something cool.

  7. Nick Rubalcaba says:

    You forgot a parenthesis in the second to last paragraph.

  8. If you are independently wealthy you can play tiddly winks all day and it doesn’t really matter.  But when you are a financially strapped nation and every dollar counts, digging up 150 year old broken pots is not a worthwhile use of tax dollars.

    • Duncan McPherson says:

      I’m sorry, but where do you get the information that this project is funded by tax dollars? 

      The project site mentions nothing of that:
      http://www.learn.columbia.edu/seneca_village/2011.html

      Nor does the NYT article linked above.

      It sure would be nice if you could cite your source.

      (Or should I say successful troll is successful?)

    • Telegram Sam says:

      Grumble, grumble.  Certainly these student archaeologists from four different academic institutions could be gaining their practicum doing something productive, like mining coal for the enrichment of some gentleman who plays tiddly winks all day.

  9. Jerry Butler says:

    It’s nice to see the doctrinaire folks once again looking through their NON- corrective lenses at what is a fascinating story – got your tea bags right here!

  10. John Cain says:

    From the Official Central Park Website “Funding for the excavation and identification of artifacts was funded by
    the National Science Foundation, National Geographic, the Durst
    Foundation, PSC-CUNY, the Richard Gilder Foundation, and private
    contributions.”

  11. chrimux says:

    The 1850′s? Wow, I think I won’t feel good if archeologists digged out my grandmothers doll and treat that like some dinosaur bones.

  12. Although it is clear that tax money was not spent here, I would surely give my tax dollars to the unveiling of this historical site rather than to the “children” in Washington, who lately, should be put in time out.

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