seneca village – lesson one


Participants will be able to identify Seneca Village on a map and make connections between Seneca Village and what is now Central Park.

Intended for all ages


What do we know about Seneca Village?

Using the following guiding questions, write out what you (or your group) already knows about Seneca Village. 

  • What do we already know about Seneca Village?
  • What was life like in Seneca Village?
  • What happened to the village and its residents?
  • What can we learn from the history of Seneca Village?
  • Why was Seneca Village torn down?
  • What were the contributions of Seneca Village residents to the city and the impact their removal had on the city’s development?

Review primary sources.

  1. Utilize the primary sources shared below or in our further reading section to start answering the guiding questions. Take notes on interesting points that connect back to major turning points in New York State or American history.
  2. Once you have reviewed some of the primary sources, pause in your research and ponder the following questions in addition to the initial guiding questions.
    1. What are the demographics of Seneca Village and the social and economic conditions of its residents? Is that similar or different from what you already knew?
    2. Was Seneca Village the only enclave of free Black people in NYC?

Map it.

Utilizing the map from the National Park Service, go on to Google Maps and zoom into Central Park. Can you find Seneca Village on the modern map? As you search, reflect on the significance of your ability to find this location easily right now. Keep your map on hand, because we will be using this map to continue our Seneca Village journey.

further wonderings

If interested in diving deeper into the origins of Seneca Village, consider exploring the following questions in addition to the ones above:

  • What were the professions of men living in Seneca Village?
  • What is the current value of the $250 purchase? Why is this significant?
  • What is the significance of the displacement of Black people in the Seneca Village community? Using the data visualizations, what can we observe from the data?
  • What is the significance of the name “Seneca Village”?

Gotham by Edwin G Burrows and Mike Wallace

Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution by Elie Mystal