The flier advertising a near-one-acre plot of land for sale in Elmhurst, Queens, looks like a typical real estate listing. The oddly-shaped parcel that abuts the Long Island Rail Road tracks is available for $13.8 million. According to the flier, the lot is a great opportunity to capitalize on the growing demand for residential space in the neighborhood.
What is not mentioned is that the site is a historical African-American burial ground. As many as 300 men and women, many of whom were former slaves, could be buried there. By the 1830s, a church and a school stood on the lot, at the heart of one of the city’s first African-American communities, formed around the time New York abolished slavery in 1827.
The empty lot has a murky future. For one thing, it comes with an archaeological restriction which requires the St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church, the organization associated with the human remains buried there, to be consulted before the lot can be further developed.
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