FARMING ESTATES OF HARLEM
Early 1800s to Mid-1800s
Harlem African Burial Ground
of God's Acre, Cemetery for Persons of European Descent
1820 John Randel Farm Map (MCNY)
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.