By 1871, Seneca Village had largely been forgotten. That year, The New York Herald reported that laborers creating a new entrance to the park at 85th Street and 8th Avenue had discovered a coffin, “enclosing the body of a Negro, decomposed beyond recognition.” The discovery was a mystery, the paper reported, because “these lands were dug up five years ago, when the trees were planted there, and no such coffins were there at the time.” That’s unlikely, as the site was the graveyard of the AME Zion church.
Researchers from Columbia, CUNY, and the New York Historical Society have been working on excavating the site of Seneca Village since the early 2000s. The work has been slow, with excavation starting in 2011.
The only official artifact that remains intact on the site is a commemorative plaque, dedicated in 2001 to the lost village.
A previous version of this story misstated the name of Christopher Rush’s church.