Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Diggin' Up the Dirt on Central Park's Past

By Debi and intern Kate G.

This morning we visited the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History’s Open House in Central Park.  The students' presentations were fascinating and ranged from the description of different nails found during the excavation, to the public's general knowledge of Seneca Village.  The entire Open House was a great reminder that no matter where you are in New York City, there are layers of history right beneath your feet!

Seneca Village Open House visitors learn about site findings, such as
19th Century "Tupperware" from students.

In the 1850s, Seneca Village, a thriving community with a population of nearly 300 people, existed on land between 81st and 89th Streets. This predominantly African American community was evicted and their land was taken through the right of eminent domain to make way for the construction of Central Park.

Victor A. Luna, a senior at City College, researched gender economics at Seneca Village.

This summer, the Institute (led by co-directors Cynthia Copeland, Nan Rothschild and Diana Wall) along with a crew of summer interns, conducted an archaeological excavation at the former site of Seneca Village. The Open House showcased the students' research and hosted walking tours of the site. Click here to see the New York Times' recent profile of the Institute's work.

The Seneca Village team excavated portions of a house built on the site.
Here, a visitor examines photos of what lies beneath.  The orange tape outlines
the foundations of the home.

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