By Rachel Holliday Smith (The City)
After a decade of planning and research by Harlemites, an unused bus depot on East 126th Street is being prepared to honor its past state: a burial ground for enslaved and free African people.
The city’s Economic Development Corporation says it will begin looking this fall for a nonprofit operator for the Harlem African Burial Ground, a cultural center and outdoor memorial set to take shape on a trapezoidal piece of land between Second and First Avenues. The project, officials say, comes with a promise of a built-in funding stream.
In the 1660s, the site was a cemetery, perched on what was then the banks of the Harlem River. It served as the only place in the Dutch-controlled Village of Nieuw Haarlem where people of African descent were legally allowed to be buried.
The Rev. Patricia Singletary of the Elmendorf Reformed Church on East 121st Street can trace her parish’s history back to the colonial-era cemetery and the church to which it belonged, the Reformed Low Dutch Church of Harlem.