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It was in May 1991, while the US General Services Administration was preparing to build a federal office tower in Lower Manhattan at Broadway between Duane and Reade Streets, that the first human remains from an 18th-century African burial ground were accidentally uncovered. Construction was subsequently halted and the resulting archaeological excavation unearthed more than 400 skeletal remains of men, women, and children, along with hundreds of burial artifacts. We commemorate this African Burial Ground with an “Ancestral Libation Chamber.”

Through Seven Elements, the Ancestral Chamber serves to physically, spiritually, ritualistically, and psychologically define the location where the historic re-interment of remains and artifacts of 419 Africans has taken place. It will also serve to acknowledge the site as a “Sacred Place” where an estimated 20,000 remains of Africans are currently buried. The African Burial Ground is widely considered to be one of America’s most significant archaeological finds of the 20th century. In 1993, the African Burial Ground was designated a National Historic Landmark and in 2006 the African Burial Ground Site was designated a National Monument.

Architects: Rodney Leon / Nicole Hollant-Denis while partners at AARRIS Architects LLC

A program of Archtober 2018. See the full events lineup at See all Buildings of the Day here.

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Please note that there are no refunds for Archtober tours.



Organized by
Center for Architecture
Monday, 10/29
12pm to 1pm
African Burial Ground National Monument
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