Note: This is the 17th installment of WCBS 880’s Black History Month series. For other articles, click here.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Walk through Central Park today and you’ll see no trace — except for a plaque on West Drive near 85th Street — of where a thriving community of African-Americans and some German and Irish immigrants once stood.

It was called Seneca Village. Blacks had bought the land 30 years before. But when the city decided to build Central Park in the 1850s, the settlement was eradicated and its residents were scattered, WCBS 880’s Jane Tillman Irving reported.

“It’s the entire history of urban America that people had to relocate because public amenities were being built,” said Sara Cedar Miller, historian for the Central Park Conservancy.

A spring provided essential freshwater so the 250 or so residents of the settlement could build strong institutions — Colored School No. 3, churches and cemeteries.

When asked if blacks were allowed to use Central Park when it opened in 1858, Miller said, “The park has been free and open to everyone since the day it started.”


Leave a Reply