4. Sandy Ground (1828)

Rossville Blazing Star CemeteryBlazing Star Cemetery is in Rossville, Staten Island nearby the Sandy Ground community

Sandy Ground was a community in Rossville, Staten Island, that was founded by free African Americans around the year 1828. Only a few months after slavery was abolished in New York City, an African American man named Captain John Jackson purchased land in the area, and the area quickly became a center of oyster trade. Many settlers would harvest and sell oysters at the nearby Prince’s Bay.

Sandy Ground was also an important stop on the Underground Railroad, and the settlement is currently considered one of the oldest continuously settled free black communities in the U.S. A church, a cemetery, and three homes from the settlement are today designated as New York City landmarks, yet most of the original houses were destroyed in a 1963 fire. Today, the Sandy Ground Historical Museum is home to the largest collection of documents detailing Staten Island’s African-American culture, history, and freedom.