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.

FARMING ESTATES OF HARLEM

Early 1800s to Mid-1800s

Historical Boundary

of the 

Harlem African Burial Ground

Historical Boundary

of God's Acre, Cemetery for Persons of European Descent

1820 John Randel Farm Map (MCNY)

MAP KEY

SYNOPSIS

From the beginning, the Low Dutch Reformed Church of Harlem maintained two cemeteries: one for people of European descent and one for people of African descent. The Harlem River was wider than it is today and the river side of the Harlem African Burial Ground was located on marshy land that joined the wide tidal zone. Outside the village, the wealthiest members of the community maintained large properties and estates. One of these families, the Ingraham family, were prominent members of the Harlem Church going back four generations. Judge Ingraham was an elder in the Church, a member of the Church's governing body. Beginning in the 1830s, he leased the “Negro burying ground” from the Church as grazing land for his sheep and cattle, thereby beginning a long tradition of disrespect for this sacred site: funerals and burials took place as farm animals wandered on the cemetery.

View of the second church of the Low Dutch Reformed Church, the founding church of Harlem village.

HARLEM PAST & PRESENT

The slider below shows the transformation of the village of Harlem from farmland to the present day streetscape of East Harlem. The 126th Street Bus Depot redevelopment site is highlighted in red and is overlaid with the historical footprint of the Harlem African Burial Ground in orange.

MORE HISTORY