African Burial Ground National Monument, New York City

#28 of 118 in Historic Sites in New York City
Monument · Hidden Gem · Historic Site
African Burial Ground National Monument is a monument at Duane Street and African Burial Ground Way (Elk Street) in the Civic Center section of Lower Manhattan, New York City. Its main building is the Ted Weiss Federal Building at 290 Broadway. The site contains the remains of more than 419 Africans buried during the late 17th and 18th centuries in a portion of what was the largest colonial-era cemetery for people of African descent, some free, most enslaved. Historians estimate there may have been as many as 10,000–20,000 burials in what was called the Negroes Burial Ground in the 1700s. The five to six acre site's excavation and study was called "the most important historic urban archaeological project in the United States." The Burial Ground site is New York's earliest known African-American cemetery; studies show an estimated 15,000 African American people were buried here.
The discovery highlighted the forgotten history of enslaved Africans in colonial and federal New York City, who were integral to its development. By the American Revolutionary War, they constituted nearly a quarter of the population in the city. New York had the second-largest number of enslaved Africans in the nation after Charleston, South Carolina. Scholars and African-American civic activists joined to publicize the importance of the site and lobby for its preservation. The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 and a national monument in 2006 by President George W. Bush.

In 2003 Congress appropriated funds for a memorial at the site and directed redesign of the federal courthouse to allow for this. A design competition attracted more than 60 proposals. The memorial was dedicated in 2007 to commemorate the role of Africans and African Americans in colonial and federal New York City, and in United States history. Several pieces of public art were also commissioned for the site. A visitor center opened in 2010 to provide interpretation of the site and African-American history in New York.

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African Burial Ground National Monument reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
145 reviews
  • This placed is closed due to the pandemic. It was not listed as closed online it cost us an Uber trip for nothing. If you walk around back you can take some pictures and actually see monument and...  more »
  • Very quiet and serene place rich with historical information. Interactive exhibits and very helpful staff  more »
  • Possibly the most significant location in the city for all of African decent. The story revealed through the study and analysis of this helps to create a clearer picture of the African presence in all of the post colonial New World. And it is powerful to be able have a place to visit and connect with the strong resilient and not forgotten predecessors of the struggle we so often remark about.
  • Beautiful monument and the small museum was very well done. We stumbled upon this with our young kids and felt like it was properly respectful, emotional, but not upsetting to them. Movie sparked a lot of conversations between us all. Highly recommend.

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