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North of the Grid

The Black Experience of 17th -19th Century Rural New York City

In the United States, the transatlantic enslavement was a racial project and template for race-making by creating a country that relied on institutions that were organized and performed off social stratification. Today, the nation still operates on systemically racist institutions that have benefited whites while disadvantaging ‘others.’ The narratives presented in American history are rooted in whiteness and benefit the white community while marginalizing nonwhites. Over two hundred years of slavery history in this country has been purposely manipulated and left out. This research focuses on using an historical archaeology framework to research and share the lives of free and enslaved Africans in 17th – 19th century Upper Manhattan. This site is a digital storytelling of their experiences and challenges cultural institutions to learn and develop best practices for implementing enslaved narratives at their sites.


Table of Contents

For a concise experience, start from the beginning and continue consecutively. For the best visual experience, use a full screen browser on a desktop or laptop computer.

NYPL lower manhattan bural.jpeg
BOLTON - Pigs - loose image.jpg

Dutch Occupation and Slavery in Nieu Amsterdam

Manhattan's Grid Development

Rural Life in Upper Manhattan

Inwood's African Burial Ground

DH 1999.121 Photo Front Facade, no date, pre 1885.jpg

Abolitionist Movements and Black Community Building

Cato Alexander - The Rags to Riches to Rags Story of a New York Tavernkeeper

Narratives for Cultural Institutions

About the Project

Land Acknowledgement

I, Stephanie, the creator of this site, recognize and acknowledge the land of Upper Manhattan. Dutch colonists removed the Munsee Lenape people from the unceded land where tribal groups lived until the late 17th Century. While forcefully removed from their land, Indigenous people are active in the community today. Upper Manhattan is also land that enslaved Africans worked against their will for the betterment of local Dutch farmers.


I acknowledge that our nation was founded upon exclusions and erasures of many Indigenous, African descendants, and other peoples. These people built much of this country under brutal conditions without pay or recognition. I name the original stewards of this land as a way to recognize the complete history of our nation, both the harm of colonization and the potential for repair.

I ask you to acknowledge the broader Lenape community, their elders both past and present, as well as future generations. I pledge to begin the process of dismantling the ongoing legacies of colonialism within the Upper Manhattan region. I recognize the privilege that has allowed the colonialist narrative to thrive over the past centuries.

About the Creator of "North of the Grid"



Stephanie is a graduate student at the CUNY Graduate Center in the M.A. Liberal Studies program with a concentration in New York Studies. She is currently the Exhibition and Digital Content Coordinator at the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum.

Her research focuses on using archives and historical materials to learn and about underrepresented narratives in New York City history for reinterpretation in New York City’s museum and educational institutions. These narratives include Indigenous and African experiences in 17th – 19th Century Upper Manhattan.