5. Weeksville (1838)

WeeksvilleHistoric Weeksville in Brooklyn

Like Seneca Village, Weeksville was a neighborhood that was founded by free African Americans, situated in modern-day Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Weeksville was founded in 1838 by James Weeks, an African-American longshoreman who bought land from Henry C. Thompson, a free African American land investor. The land was previously owned by an heir of John Lefferts, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

By the 1850s, Weeksville’s population had surpassed that of Seneca Village, with upwards of 500 residents from across the East Coast, with over a third of residents born in the south. Weeksville was home to two churches, a school (Colored School No. 2), and a cemetery, as well as the Howard Colored Orphan Asylum. Weeksville also had one of the first African-American newspapers called the Freedman’s Torchlight and served as headquarters of the African Civilization Society. Additionally, the area was a refuge for many African Americans who left Manhattan during the 1863 Draft Riots. Four historic houses dating back to the time of the village collectively make up the Hunterfly Road Houses, listed on the NRHP in 1972. The discovery of these houses led to the creation of the Weeksville Heritage Centerdedicated to the preservation of Weeksville.