From about the 1690s until 1794, both free and enslaved Africans were buried in a 6.6-acre burial ground in Lower Manhattan, outside the boundaries of the settlement of New Amsterdam, later known as New York. Lost to history due to landfill and development, the grounds were rediscovered in 1991 as a consequence of the planned construction of a Federal office building.
Between 1991 and 1992, 419 sets of human remains were discovered and unearthed from a less than one acre section of a 6.6 acre historical African cemetery, during the construction of the Ted Weiss Federal Building in Lower Manhattan. They were taken to Howard University for scientific research which shed light on the lives, origin and customs of these little known New Yorkers. Following examination, the remains were re-interred on October 4, 2003 at the African Burial Ground.
The African Burial Ground National Monument is the first National Monument dedicated to Africans of early New York and Americans of African descent. It is the
newest National Monument in New York City, joining the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Federal Hall National Monument.
A Visitor Center and exhibition space on the ground floor of the Ted Weiss Building includes exhibits about the history of the cemetery, the African contribution to the building of early New York City as well as the more recent events surrounding the site’s discovery and construction.
A film clip of the opening of the New York African Burial Ground National Memorial In New York City in 2007: