The Lost Neighbourhood under Central Park — a Vox Explainer feature about Seneca Village, which was destroyed to make way for the park. Via Vox:
It’s a piece of hidden history that goes back to the 1820s, when this land was largely the open countryside of New York. The expanse became home to about 1,600 people — many of whom were escaping the crowded and increasingly dangerous conditions of lower Manhattan.
Among them was a predominantly black community that bought up affordable plots to build homes, churches, and a school. The area became known as Seneca Village. And when Irish and German immigrants moved in, it became a rare example of racial harmony in an integrated neighborhood during this period.
Everything changed on July 21, 1853. Through eminent domain, New York City took control of the land to create what would become the first major landscaped park in the US. They called it “the Central Park.”
Watch the video above to learn more about the park’s creation. Through city records, maps, and archaeological analysis from a 2011 excavation of the site, we piece together what happened to Seneca Village.