I have to admit that we New Yorkers like to glamorize our city’s history. I’m sure the rest of the world doesn’t find this one of our more likeable traits. It’s not that we think we’re better than everyone else. It’s just that sometimes we get carried away about the magic of the bubble in which we live our lives. But as the years pass and the stories unravel, we learn that our history is every bit as shameful as everywhere else. We hate that.
In the 1820s, though downtown Manhattan was crowded, the area that is now Central Park was mostly just open countryside. It became home to a population of roughly 1,600 people, predominantly comprised of black, Irish, and German families. It was, in fact, known as one of the first truly, peacefully integrated communities. The community, known as Seneca Village, got together to purchase the land, on which it built homes, churches and a school. It became known as Seneca Village. Then on July 21, 1853, the City seized the land to create the first major landscaped park in the U.S., known as “The Central Park.” This is the story of that lost community.
You can learn more about Seneca Village and more of New York’s history on NYHistory.org.