Social History for Every Classroom


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Plans for Central Park (1858)

This 1857 map depicts plans for Central Park by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. The red rectangle denotes the area of Seneca Village, which spanned 82nd street to 89th street in New York City. Founded in 1825, Seneca Village was a New York City settlement of mostly African Americans, many of whom were landowners. Irish and German immigrants also began to move into the community throughout the 1840s. By the 1850s, residents of the settlement enjoyed living away from overcrowded downtown Manhattan. In 1853, the city government invoked “eminent domain” to take over all of the land to construct what we now know as Central Park. Eminent domain refers to the right of the government to seize private property for public use. In this case, all Seneca Village residents were forced to leave the community and relocate elsewhere. The entire settlement was destroyed and the first section of the park opened to the public in 1858.

Source | Central Park Conservancy Magazine, “Before Juneteenth: The Story of Seneca Village and Central Park”:
Item Type | Map
Cite This document | “Plans for Central Park (1858),” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed December 9, 2023,

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