Basic Facts about the African Burial Ground National Monument

Located in Lower Manhattan, New York City, the African Burial Ground National Monument protects a massive excavated grave site of both free and enslaved Africans from the 17th and 18th centuries. The historic site memorializes the role that slavery played in establishing New York.

History 

In 1991, construction began for an office building at 190 Broadway in New York City. In accordance with Section 106 in the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, a “Stage 1A Cultural Resource Survey” was procured to establish whether or not the construction would interfere with any cultural or archeological history in the area. It was then discovered that 15,000 human skeletal remains of free and enslaved Africans were located just beneath the surface of the street dating back to the mid 1630s to 1795, making it the largest cemetery for people of African descent in the colonial era. In colonial times, the area had been known as the “Negroes Burial Ground”. 

An important urban archeological project, the African Burial Ground National Monument is thought to be the earliest African American burial ground in New York. The site highlights the forgotten history of the enslaved African people who were an integral part in the building of New York City.

In 1993, the site became a National Historic Landmark and in 2006, President George W. Bush designated the site a National Monument. In 2007, the memorial was dedicated to honor the memory of the enslaved African Americans who helped establish New York City and their role in United States history. In 2010, the monument’s visitor center opened as a means to interpret the importance and history of the site.

Getting to African Burial Ground National Monument

An important national monument in New York City, African Burial Ground National Monument is the continent’s oldest and largest unearthed burial ground for Africans who were both free and enslaved in American history. 

The monument is situated in the Civic Center of Lower Manhattan at the corner of Duane Street and African Burial Ground Way (Elk Street). The site can be accessed by car or taxi once in Manhattan, by subway via the Chambers Street, Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall Subway Station, or City Hall Station stops. If you plan to fly into New York City, the closest airports are John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) or LaGuardia Airport (LGA). From there, by car or subway will be your best options for reaching the site.