Statement of Significance (as of designation - April 19, 1993):
Excavations for new construction in lower Manhattan in the early 1990s revealed the presence of burials dating as early as 1712. Throughout the 18th century, the city's free and enslaved Africans buried their dead here, in what was then part of New York's "common" land. The more than 400 individuals whose remains have been recovered from this site represent a much larger population whose role in the formation and development of this city and, by extension, the Nation, is critical. Over the years topographical changes occurred.; most of the burial ground is far below present grades and far beneath New York's skyscrapers. Signs that provide historic perspective on the cemetery and those who were buried here mark the site.