The Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force is a group of concerned citizens who have united to help the Elmendorf Reformed Church to restore and memorialize its historically and culturally significant colonial African burial ground at 1st Avenue, between 126th and 127th Streets in East Harlem, New York City.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS

AT THE

The 126th Street Bus Depot (shown at left) currently stands on the historical and culturally significant Harlem African Burial Ground. In August and September of 2015, archaeological escavations were conducted on the bus depot site, leading to the recovery of numerous historic artifacts and fragmentary human remains. Despite centuries of careless development and neglect, the discovery of an intact skull and disarticulated human bones confirmed the continued presence of those interred. 

TRENCH LOCATIONS

To conduct the archaeological investigation, four large trenches were excavated. Their respective locations and dimensions are mapped below on a present day map of East Harlem and on an 1820 map depicting the original village of Harlem.   

MAP KEY

Trench Locations & Their Respective Dimensions

Harlem African Burial Ground

TRENCH 1-

38ft. x 13ft. x 6.5ft. in depth

No evidence of former cemetery

TRENCH 2-

6ft. x 25ft. x 9ft. in depth

Disarticulated human skeletal remains

TRENCH 3-

3.5ft. x 17ft. x 9.5ft. in depth

No evidence of historic features

TRENCH 4-

9.5ft. x 6ft. x 5.5ft. in depth

No evidence of former cemetery

ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY

The New York City Economic Development Corporation hired environmental planning and engineering consultants, AKRF, Inc. to conduct a Phase I-B Preliminary Archaeological Investigation. Subsurface testing was limited in scope; its purpose was to identify the presence or absence of important buried resources. In Trench 2 (1 of 4 test pits excavated at the 126th Street Bus Depot), disarticulated human remains were found along with other archaeological artifacts. All recovered artifacts have been safely secured in accordance with approved city and state archaeological protocols. City and state archaeological protocols dictate that an archaeologist must be on site when any future construction occurs. The following slideshow depicts the excavation process and some of the discoveries from the investigation.

View of Trench 1 from within the bus depot building. The concrete floor has been removed but the actual excavation has not yet begun. (Photo, AKRF).

A detailed report outlining the analysis, findings, and recommendations of the archaeological investigation undertaken by AKRF, an environmental planning and engineering consultancy firm .

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