On Staten Island, one of NYC’s oldest African American enclaves is preserved


via Curbed.com – New York City has always been a collection of diverse communities—and while many have since been paved over or transformed into new neighborhoods, in some places, visible remnants of the past remain. One such place is Staten Island’s Sandy Ground, which—along with Seneca Village, established in 1825 and located in Manhattan, and Weeksville, established in 1838 and located in present-day Crown Heights—was one of three prominent communities that free blacks called home in New York in the pre-Civil War era.

Located on the Staten Island’s south shore, Sandy Ground first appeared on records dating back to 1799, its name referring to the rich soil found throughout the area. Land ownership records show that the first African American residents purchased land in the area as early as 1828. The first documented owner, John Jackson, purchased 2.5 acres; he would later go ont to operate the Lewis Columbia, a ferry that provided service between Rossville and Manhattan—the only direct mode of transportation at that time.

Keep reading >>>

Learn More About the Underground Railroad in Staten Island

2015-05-20_13-35-03WHEN: Fri, May 22, 7pm – 9pm

WHERE: Unitarian Church of Staten Island, 312 Fillmore Street, Staten Island, NY 10301

The Sandy Ground Historical Society in partnership with theUnitarian Church of Staten Islandwill host a lecture and book signing on May 22nd. Authors Tom Calarco and Don Papson will present from their book, “Secret Lives of the Underground Railroad in New York City.”

Underground Railroad activities on Staten Island will be included in the presentation.

Light refreshments will be served. Suggested donation of $10.

RSVP (718) 317-5796 or (917) 992-8652


Don Papson was awarded the 2012 Underground Railroad Free Press Prize in Leadership for co-founding the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association and establishing the North Star Underground Railroad Museum. He lives in Plattsburgh, New York.

Tom Calarco is a professional writer whose antislavery research is widely recognized. He was awarded the 2008 Underground Railroad Free Press Prize for advancing the knowledge and study of the Underground Railroad. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

During the fourteen years Sydney Howard Gay edited the American Anti-Slavery Society’s National Anti-Slavery Standard in New York City, he worked with some of the most important Underground agents in the eastern United States, including Thomas Garrett, William Still and James Miller McKim. Gay’s closest associate was Louis Napoleon, a free black man who played a major role in the James Kirk and Lemmon cases. For more than two years, Gay kept a record of the fugitives he and Napoleon aided. These never before published records are annotated in this book. Revealing how Gay was drawn into the bitter division between Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison, the work exposes the private opinions that divided abolitionists. It describes the network of black and white men and women who were vital links in the extensive Underground Railroad, conclusively confirming a daily reality.