In 1991 in preparation to build a federal office building in Lower Manhattan at 290 Broadway, mandatory analysis revealed the existence of a burial ground consisting of the remains of African slaves who lived in the city during the 17th and 18th centuries.  Mr. Bill Miles, working at Channel 13 (10/1992) was able to get access to the excavation site and captured some tremendous footage. Bill Miles is one of the best Documentary Filmmakers at telling the story of African-Americans and the above clip proves it.

When thinking of slavery in the USA during the 17th and 18th centuries many think of the South, but the footage captured by Bill proves the existence of slavery right here on the Island of Manhattan during the same time period.  So many questions:

When did slavery start and end in New York City ?

What was the lifestyle of the slaves ?

How many were there and what African countries did they come from ?

How rigorous were the slave duties ?

What was the average life span of a slave in New York City ?

To what degree could the slaves unite as a family ?

Were only African slaves buried on the site ?

What skills and trades did the African slaves excel in ?

Watching Bill’s uncut footage of the remains of the African slaves answers many of the above questions and actualized in my head the existence of the ancestors here on Manhattan Island and the need to remember them.  It’s Black History Month and this is a great time to remember them, and pay homage for all they obviously endured.

The above footage is unedited, excuse the seldom shakiness.

The Memorial

The memorial is located at the corner of Duane Street and African Burial Ground Way (Elk Street). The memorial is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. However, during the winter, the memorial closes at 4 p.m.

The memorial honors the memories of the estimated 15,000 enslaved and free Africans who were interred in the burial ground during the 17th and 18th centuries.


check above link for lots of info. about the African Burial Ground.