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Remains From Century-Old Black Village Found in New York City

Eight weeks worth of digging by a team of anthropologists and historians has resulted in new information for New York City’s black history.

The remains of Seneca Village, a black community that first came to be in New York City in the 1820s, have resurfaced after the completion of an excavation granted to the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village History, a consortium of three professors from City College, Barnard College and New York University . The Village, which originally held a community of 260 working and middle-class families, stretched from 82nd to 89th street between Seventh and Eight avenues. The area and community were pushed out after the development of Central Park in the 1850s.

According to the New York Times, a wealth of material and information has been discovered from the dig that had not been found in recent searches. 10 college interns helped out with the excavation, in which everything from clay pipes, animal bones, porcelain, and foundation walls were found. A small remnant from a leather shoe was found, which evoked tears for Madeline Landry.

“It’s just such an intimate thing,” Landry, a Barnard College anthropology major said. “That shoe fit someone who walked around here.”

Cynthia R. Copeland, an adjunct New York University professor who helped curate an exhibition on the community with the New York Historical Society in 1997, believes that the artifacts found will bring new information to the story of Seneca Village.

“The vast array of materials that we uncovered really gives us a true sense of a strong, stable community,” she said.

An open-house will be held on the site on August 24.

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