2. Collect Pond Park at the former site of The Tombs

Collect Pond-Five Points-Historical Sign at the Tombs-NYC Jail-Lower ManhattanPhoto by Amy Cools

The Tombs stood at the site where Collect Pond now stretches between Lafayette and Centre Streets, at cross streets White and Leonard. It was an Egyptian revival building (hence the name, as in ancient Egyptian tombs) repurposed as a prison because it was ill-suited for its original purpose. In his autobiography The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Douglass recalled meeting a sailor named Stuart who saw him across the street from where his house stood on the west side of that street. Stuart took an interest in him and befriended him right away. We’re sure it had much to do with Douglass’ appearance, since he dressed as a sailor himself for his escape: sailors were held in especially high regard in this part of the world at this time, so he felt he was less likely to be challenged, and since many black people were employed as sailors, he felt he’d more likely pass without notice.