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Seneca Village: The African-American Community that Died so Central Park Could Live

Seneca Village began in 1825 with the purchase of land by a trustee of AME Zion Church.

Following his purchase, this African-American community grew steadily and was later supplemented by Irish immigrants moving to the area.

Both populations were marginalized and faced similar discrimination throughout the city.

Remarkably, despite their social and racial conflicts elsewhere, the Irish and African-Americans in Seneca Village chose to live in close proximity to each other.

The African-American inhabitants were also quite unique for the time. Their high rates of land ownership, voting and education suggest that Seneca Village was part of the black middle class.

In 1856, the City of New York acquired the village through eminent domain to create Central Park.

The city paid landowners, though many found the payment inadequate, and renters were displaced without compensation.

There are few records of where residents went after their eviction and the community was destroyed.

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