Sunday, November 11, 2018

Elmhurst fights for its historic African burial ground

From the Times Ledger:

The fight for survival continues for one of the city’s oldest African burial grounds now that a Request for Evaluation was submitted to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The Elmhurst Histories and Cemeteries Preservations Society submitted the request Oct. 1 as a step toward keeping the piece of local and national history from being buried underneath a 55-foot-tall residential building. On Sept. 13, the developing company Song Liu filed permits to develop the five story structure at 47-11 90th St., according to reports from the city Department of Buildings. If construction were to take place, a vital part of American history could be wiped off the map.

In 1828, St. Mark’s American Methodist Episcopal Church was founded — on the site of the proposed building — one year after enslaved people were emancipated in New York City 35 years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Newly Freed African-Americans quickly established the congregation which eventually evolved and relocated three times. The church still remains active today as the St. Mark’s A.M.E Church in North Corona, which is still responsible for the 310 bodies still believed to be resting in the lot hugged by highways.

Construction can only take place when there has been an agreement struck between Song Liu and St. Mark’s AME Church of Corona, according to Giampino. In order for Song Liu to touch the earth, the remains must be properly removed and reburied. St. Mark’s AME Church did not respond to request for comment about the matter.

“It’s a very sad story,” said James McMenamin, vice president of the Elmhurst Histories and Cemeteries Preservation Society.

In 1928, after St. Marks AME had to move to new location, the New York City refused to grant the church permission to remove the remains to a new location. The burial ground was then mostly forgotten and even written off of city maps, according to Giampino.

“The Pepsi Cola sign gets landmarked and $1.9 million (is allocated) to save and restore the house next door to Louis Armstrong,” said McMenamin. “In the meantime we have been trying to save this structure in Elmhurst and we have gotten zip.”


Yep, that about sums it up.

8 comments:

JQ LLC said...

So much for this so-called Progressive City. This is something regarding Black History that would usually call for attention by opportunistic elected officials. So where is Melinda Katz? Where is the councilperson for this district? Dare I ask where is Mayor de Faustio and his African American co-mayor wife?

It's a good thing James seethingly brought up the fact that the city was quick to landmark a junk soda ad and of course the barely brought restoration of the house NEXT DOOR to the Louis Armstrong's house. It is fucking nauseating that the city has 1.9 million to splurge because that house is not aesthetically pleasing but they won't allocate it for affordable housing.

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with Satchmo's neighbors house too.

Anonymous said...

Song Liu should take a walk and have some respect for the dead. I understand that in China, they have no regard for human life but this is America and our dead who was there LONG BEFORE any song Liu came around should be respected. Then again, this is mayor dumbdumbs nyc era where nothing is sacred anymore. When mayor dumbdumb dies, I hope someone builds a HUGE JAIL right over his final resting place along with his ugly, useless wife.

Anonymous said...

It all comes down to voting blocks and campaign cash. Guess which group can help the machine.

The zombie's head, Crowley, is chopped off, but it will come back until a silver stake is drilled though its heart.

Shaolin said...


You've never been to China then

Anonymous said...
?> I understand that in China, they have no regard for human life

Tommy Efreeti said...

If anyone is curious as to the look of the intersection and plot described:

https://goo.gl/maps/Kbcgj6ELBDP2

The crux of the article:

Currently, Song Liu sits at the corner of Corona Avenue and 90th Street on the odd shaped piece of land where the burial ground is located right next to its only entrance, a driveway. Besides Song Liu, houses line the three sides to the almost triangular spot.

The proposed structure would yield 88,500 square feet with 74,160 of those square feet dedicated to residential use and 5,000 for a ground-floor museum. A total of 80 apartments would be created with each being about 920 square feet, and be rentals or condominiums. The building will include parking for 30 vehicles and a recreational space on the rooftop.

In 1828, St. Mark’s American Methodist Episcopal Church was founded — on the site of the proposed building — one year after enslaved people were emancipated in New York City 35 years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Newly Freed African-Americans quickly established the congregation which eventually evolved and relocated three times. The church still remains active today as the St. Mark’s A.M.E Church in North Corona, which is still responsible for the 310 bodies still believed to be resting in the lot hugged by highways.

Construction can only take place when there has been an agreement struck between Song Liu and St. Mark’s AME Church of Corona, according to Giampino. In order for Song Liu to touch the earth, the remains must be properly removed and reburied. St. Mark’s AME Church did not respond to request for comment about the matter.


Bold highlighting mine own. That should be the priority. Treat history with respect, preserve and conserve where you can, and then strike a worthy compromise that both sides can be happy with. There are dead buried and erstwhile Churches everywhere; but the street is now a residential one and as such should match its neigbhors lots in form and function.

Anonymous said...

They need to contact a very high profile African American, like Oprah, to bring national attention to this issue. That may get the ball rolling

Anonymous said...

It is impossible to remove remains. Anyone that is a student of history will telly you that time and again a space has been 'cleared' of remains and construction starts more bones are found in the ground.

Its a cemetery let it alone!

Anonymous said...

Why bother? In 25 years when there is is a need for even more housing,all cemetery’s will be paved over. Laugh now,cry later...