8. The New York Slave Market (Vanished)

Sketch New York Slave Market-1730-Manhattan-NYCSketch of New York slave market in 1730. Image via Digital Collections/New York Public Library.

Many secrets lie locked within the street plan of lower Manhattan. One of the most disturbing is the city’s relation to slavery, which existed in the city from its earliest days until the early nineteenth century. Many of the structures mentioned in this chapter—including the wall of Wall Street itself—were constructed by slave labor. One of the most notorious landmarks of the slave trade sat here, at the corner of Wall and Water Streets (once the shoreline, back in British New York). The Meal Market was established in 1711 not only for the buying and selling of raw products like grains, but also for the purchase and leasing of “negroes and Indian slaves.”(5) (Wall and Pearl Streets)

(5) Notes of the City Council, December 13, 1711.