I came to this small parcel of land in Seneca Village, far removed and well north of Manhattan’s center, in 1825 to hold this young nation to its promise. Through this place, an overgrown plot of shrubs and rocks, I could now begin to count myself among those that counted. I was one of the first, but others followed and a community took root: schools, churches, a cemetery, two-story wood clapboard homes, inside families navigating the contradictions of a divided nation. It is here, to this home, that I would return each evening, a material reminder of my right to this city.
I dug a hole. I planted a tree. I shaped this place.
Boot Polisher (c. 1855)