Slave market marker at Wall Street and Water Street
When you think about slavery, New York City rarely comes to mind, but there’s actually a deep history entrenched in the streets and buildings of New York. As we showed before, the Underground Railroad had a large presence here and finally this year, in an effort to recognize #blacklivesmatter, New York City has finally acknowledged that it was once home to one of the biggest slave markets in the country. In June, Mayor de Blasio unveiled a new plaque marking the spot on Wall Street where the slave market once stood, dedicating it to the thousands of enslaved people who passed through.
Inspired by this historic event, here are 10 things you may not have known about New York City’s slave market.
1. 40% of New Yorkers Owned Slaves
Slavery in America is most commonly associated with southern plantation but many city dwellers also owned slaves and New Yorkers were no exception. In fact, New York was the biggest slave owning colony in the North. By 1741, 1,800 people amid a population 10,000, were black slaves. Blacks consisted of one third of the city’s workforce and one in every five households owned at least one slave. One Scottish traveler even complained, “it rather hurts a European eye to see so many negro slaves upon [New York’s] streets.”