Black History Month 2016

'harlem is...DOWNTOWN'
Join us to celebrate African-American history at Federal Hall. African-Americans have played an integral part in the evolution of New York City from its very beginnings.

In honor of Black History Month, and beyond, a special exhibit, ‘harlem is…DOWNTOWN’ is on display at Federal Hall until April 15, 2016. This exhibit showcases some of the great achievements of African – Americans in one of the most notable sections of Manhattan.

Of course, the African - American experience has been marked by tragedy as well as triumph. Visitors are also encouraged to visit African Burial Ground National Memorial , which is nearby at 290 Broadway,to learn more about the struggles and fates of African slaves that were brought to America. African-American History Month programs are also available here.

An African-American stevedore.
An African-American stevedore.

African- American men played a significant role in the development and expansion of New York City, physically and economically, laboring at the docks and in warehouses, loading and unloading ships and drays - performing the heavy work necessary to keep the New York economy moving.In many ways, commercial economy rested quite firmly on the backs of enslaved labor. This took place very near to Federal Hall, along Pearl Street, which was the water's edge of Lower Manhattan's east side. Enslaved African women were ubiquitous in the household of Lower Manhattan's urban setting, cooking, cleaning, raising children etc.

Federal Hall is at the northern end of the original boundaries of New York City. Among the places of note that affected the lives African-Americans in the vicinity of Federal Hall were:

The second African Free School.
The second African Free School.

The Wall: Enslaved Africans constructed a wall across Manhattan, that demarcated the northern boundary of New York City in 1653. It stretched from the East River to the Hudson River. It was destroyed in 1699, leaving behind what is now Wall Street.

African Free School: Founded by the New York Manumission Society, the school was established in 1787 where forty children were taught in a single room. The first school was destroyed in 1814 and replaced with a new building at what is now 245 William Street between Ann and Fulton Streets.

Abolitionist Meeting House: Starting in 1835, this boarding house became a location where abolitionists met to plan campaigns to end slavery.It was operated by Asenath Natch Nicholson, and ardent abolitionist, and sat at what is now 118 William Street between Fulton and John Streets.

Last updated: February 12, 2016

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