Do you believe the South Bronx should have its own recreational grounds? If so, what types of spaces, activities and facilities would be included? How would this project affect the South Bronx? Explain.
Beginning in 1849, a small group of civic-minded New York visionaries began to agitate for the creation of a grand, artfully sculptured uptown park, modeled after the opulent public parks of Europe. They would eventually include James William Beekman, a State Senator; William Cullen Bryant, editor of the New York Evening Post; Andrew Jackson Downing, a landscape gardener and writer; Robert Minturn, a wealthy merchant; and Fernando Wood, the Mayor.
Located between 82 nd and 87 th Streets, just east of Central Park West, Seneca Village was first settled in the 1820's, just on the eve of emancipation in New York State. There some African Americans bought land to build their homes and institutions. Some think that one of their incentives was to acquire $250 worth of property, the amount of property that was needed for an African-American man to vote. Seneca Village was, in fact, the only community of African-American property-owners for the 19 th century city.
Task A: You will be attending the final town meeting in a few moments. In your group you must come up with the 4 strongest reasons this project should or should not be approved. Order your list like a countdown from 4 to 1. Your #1 reason should be the strongest.
Task B: Select a persuasive representative to deliver your reasons with conviction to the class.
Post Hearing Reflections How did you feel about the ruling at the hearing?
By the mid-1850's, the Village was a thriving community with a population of over 250 people. Approximately two thirds were of African descent, while the remainder were of European descent, mostly Irish. The Village was also the site of several institutions, including three churches, five cemeteries and a school. When the City government claimed the land under the right of eminent domain , evicted the residents, and razed their homes to create Central Park, Seneca Village disappeared for over a century.
Let’s see where people lived, who they were, and information about their families.
Question: what observations can you make about those who once lived here?
Pretend you are a former citizen of Seneca Village. You have returned to see the park that has replaced your community of churches, schools, and friendly neighbors. The park is beautiful, but you hear stories and see depictions of the old neighborhood portrayed as a hotbed for crime and vermin in the city. How does this make you feel? Why would the city want others to remember your neighborhood in this way?
It is up to YOU to make sure your neighborhood is remembered and your sacrifices were not in vain. YOU have been given honor and responsibility to make sure future generations receive accurate knowledge about the neighborhood from those who knew it best, its citizens.
Create a personal written description (with optional drawing) with voice and details about your former home and neighborhood. These will be read and presented at the commemoration ceremony during the grand opening and will appear on walls, plaques and galleries in the park.