Weeksville began to wane in the late 1880s, when a population shift changed the demographic mix of the surrounding area. “After the Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1883, the neighborhood became more integrated with European immigrants,” explains Scott. “Weeksville kind of phased out.”
The community was “rediscovered” by community activists in 1968, and in 2005 the Weeksville Heritage Center restored four houses and opened them to the public. You can now tour the “Hunterfly Road Historic Houses,” which feature furnishings, clothing, artifacts and photographs dating back to the 1800s. One of the homes was painstakingly restored and furnished thanks to oral histories offered by members of the Williams family, who lived there for 40 years.
And next year, the center is scheduled to launch a new, 19,000-square-foot education and art center, which will feature a media lab, a research institute and a performance space and exhibition gallery. The center currently hosts concerts, family workshops and a farmers market on summer weekends.
For more information or to take a tour, go to weeksvillesociety.org. It’s best to call or email before you go.
The African Burial Ground National Monument and Visitor Center
290 Broadway, at Duane Street in lower Manhattan
Most people think of slavery as a Southern institution. They have no idea that the slave trade flourished in New York for 200 years. New York state abolished slavery in 1827, one of the last Northern states to do so.
During construction of a government office building near City Hall, workers discovered human graves about 24 feet belowground. Over the next two years, 419 skeletal remains were removed from what was a 6.6-acre “Negro Burial Ground.” It took a loud and sustained protest to halt the excavation and insist that the remains be properly and respectfully cared for. But eventually, the bones and artifacts were transferred to Howard University in 1992 for examination and analysis.