When Washington Square Park Was Owned By African Americans

Written By: Elsie Law - Nov• 06•15

Washington Square ParkRecently, burial vaults were discovered underneath Washington Square Park. Archaeologists are reportedly still trying to determine the exact origins of the vaults; however, they claim that they believe the vaults date back to the 19th century.

Way before the 19th century, African Americans who were brought to the United States as chattel, owned approximately 130 acres of land that comprise and surround the are in New York City that is presently known as Washington Square Park.

Ownership of the parcel of land was granted to a group of African Americans in the mid-17th century. The brewing conflict between Dutch “settlers” and the Native Americans was the catalyst for this land ownership. The Dutch granted the Africans ownership of the land in an attempt to create a geographic buffer between themselves and the Native Americans, thereby potentially protecting them from attacks by the Natives.

The Dutch granted Africans land between Manhattan’s southern tip- where they settled, and Manhattan’s northern area- where the Native Americans resided.

It will be interesting to see if the discovered vaults are announced to have any African American connections.

[Bibliography: Slavery In New York]

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