Note: This is the 16th installment of WCBS 880’s Black History Month series. For other articles, click here.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The conventional wisdom was that when the land was set aside for Central Park in 1853, only a few squatters and hobos lived there.

“That’s a myth that grew up over time,” Sara Cedar Miller, the official photographer and historian for the Central Park Conservancy, told WCBS 880’s Jane Tillman Irving.

One large settlement was the African-American community of Seneca Village, which fronted on the present Central Park West, roughly from 81st to 89th streets.

It was “a stable, long-standing community of African-American property owners,” Miller said. “That makes it so unique and so important to New York City’s history.”

In 1853, New York state authorized the use of eminent domain — the taking over of private land for public use — and Seneca Village disappeared.


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