Seneca Village

Central Park West Manhattanundefined

National Park Service
Written By National Park Service

Since 1916, the National Park Service has been entrusted with the care of our national parks. National Parks in New York City? Yes! There are 11 parks with a total of 23 different sites you can visit in all five boroughs and parts of New Jersey.

Long before Frederick Olmsted put pen to paper to design Central Park, Seneca Village occupied the land. Founded by free African Americans in 1825, this village was the first significant community of African American property owners in Manhattan. 

Many burials in 1849 can be attributed to a cholera epidemic that year. There is no record that these cemeteries were relocated when Central Park was built. In fact, written explanations say that several graves were inadvertently uncovered in the decades following the opening of the park. At the time of its destruction in 1855, Seneca Village had 264 residents, three churches, two schools, and three cemeteries.

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The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was one of the churches that purchased burial plots in Seneca Village. Enter Central Park West at 85th, on your right is a playground with benches. When you see the ginkgo tree, cross the road and go up the hill. Spector Playground is on your left. Walk further and look down. You can see what appears to be a stone outcropping. It appears to be the corner of a foundation. This is believed to be what is left of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church's burial site. 

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