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Sandy Ground

About this listing

Community founded by free-blacks in the early 1800s

Place Details

Borough : Staten Island
Neighborhood : Rossville
Residential, Historic Site & Museum

Place Matters Profile

Sandy Ground, on the South Shore of Staten Island, is the first known community of free African Americans in North America. Former slaves migrated here from Manhatan, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware to form a farming community in the 1830s. Originally named Harrisville, then Little Africa, it settled on name Sandy Ground for the poor quality of the local soil. Although the community began primarily as a farming community, after a substantial migration of former slaves form Maryland and Delaware, the primary industry became oystering. It was a thriving oystering community for more than a century. However, when the over working of oyster beds and pollution from nearby factories brought an end to oystering, the dominant industry shifted to digging, metalworking and blacksmithing.

In the mid 1850s, Sandy Ground was also part of the Underground Railroad. Several abolitionists lived in the area, and there are various houses and sites that have been identified as likely stops along the Underground Railroad.

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Nominations

Anonymous Nominator

Nominated through the History Happened Here conference and report.


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