Joseph Rodman Drake Park and Enslaved African Burial Ground – Oak Point Avenue,
Drake Park South, Longfellow Avenue, and Hunts Point Avenue
ITEM PROPOSED FOR PUBLIC HEARING
The proposed designation of a New York City park, opened in 1910, containing two surviving colonial-era cemeteries for Hunts Point’s early European-descended settler families, and for the African and Indigenous people they enslaved.
As the citywide advocate for New York’s architectural, historical and cultural neighborhoods, HDC enthusiastically supports the designation of Joseph Rodman Drake Park and Enslaved African Burial Ground as an Individual Landmark.
There is much to celebrate in this designation. Not only is this site an addition to landmarked spaces in the Bronx, a borough underrepresented in designated and protected places, but also, this designation is part of a process to uplift the stories of Black and indigenous New Yorkers, whose stories are too often left out of, or deliberately removed from, the historical record. In this case, headstones from this enslaved African burial ground were literally removed from this parkland more than a century ago.
HDC is glad that signage related to this designation will help reintroduce a physical marker of the burial ground and its history into New York’s physical environment. One thing that landmarks do is surround us in history, and allow us to have a tangible relationship to the past.
The history of the Enslaved African burial ground is a past too long obscured. We are pleased this site will finally be recognized and protected. We call on the LPC to recognize and protect more sites in the Bronx, and to work with local advocates, such as members of HDC’s Bronx Landmarks Committee, to identify sites that hold special significance to Bronx residents.