Flatbush African Burial Ground
The Flatbush African Burial Ground is an archaeologically sensitive site, home to a burial ground for free and enslaved people of African descent (17th-19th centuries) and multiple historic schools. The last structure was demolished in 2016 due to unsafe building conditions.
In October 2020 the City announced plans to develop affordable housing at the site and established a task force to guide the development of recommendations on the project. Following several meetings with Flatbush residents and community stakeholders, the City withdrew its RFP for affordable housing in favor of as-yet-undetermined plans for memorialization of the lives of those buried at the site and the larger history of slavery in Brooklyn.
Multiple community organizations continue to perform research on the site, host community cleanups and walking tours related to the space.
Juneteenth Event at Lefferts House
Meeting of the CB14 Flatbush African Burial Ground Task Force Meeting
The CB14 Flatbush African Burial Ground Task Force for a status update and a discussion of community-led activities. Watch the video livestream
Parks Department Virtual Input Meeting
NYC Parks, in conjunction with Council Member Rita Joseph, conducted a public input session for the future park design of the Flatbush African Burial Ground site, the start of the design process to renovate the parcel for public use as a park. See the presentation
Site transferred from HPD to Parks Department.
Housing RFP dropped
City decided not to move forward with RFP for housing construction, youth services & memorialization due to feedback from participants.
Letter of opposition sent to Mayor
Then Brooklyn Borough President and co-chair of task force Eric Adams submitted letter to Mayor de Blasio expressing preference for memorial and open space, rather than housing, to be sited at the Flatbush African Burial Ground.
HPD reports to the community
HPD hosted 2 public report-back events for Flatbush community to learn about priorities included in the draft community engagement report.
Archeological report published
Archeological consultants, Historical Perspectives Inc, published results of study of FABG focused on descendant community research.
FABG Coalition created
Flatbush African Burial Ground Coalition created by residents.
Workshops and public input
City Team facilitated 3 community workshops and questionnaire inviting public to share concerns, insights, and priorities for site.
RFQ for development issued
HPD released a Request for Qualifications for development teams to transform the Flatbush site into affordable housing and community development space.
FABGRR meetings start
HPD’s Flatbush African Burial Ground Remembrance and Redevelopment Task Force held the first of 7 meetings to guide the development of recommendations on the project, including the respectful treatment of human remains. Videos and slides from workshops are available on “Engagement Process” page of FABGRR website
Affordable housing announcement and FABGRR created
Then Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Member Mathieu Eugene announced a proposal to build 100% affordable housing on former school site and created the Flatbush African Burial Ground Remembrance & Redevelopment Task Force, co chaired by then Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams
FABGRR Task force established
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Economic Development Corporation established the need for a Task Force to make efforts to identify any potential descendants of free and enslaved people of African descent who lived in early Flatbush, establish a procedure for handling any additional remains that might be discovered, and discuss memorialization of the site’s history.
School building demolished because of unsafe building conditions.
Site is landmarked
School building given NYC landmark status.
Burial ground confirmed
Physical evidence of the burial ground affirmed through archeological testing. Disarticulated human remains found in the upper layer of soil aligning with the now known historical boundaries of the FABG from the 1855 map. These remains were reburied at Flatbush Reformed Church cemetery.
Burial ground rediscovered
African burial ground rediscovered during demolition.
Active schools on site
School building served as Brooklyn Branch of the Yeshiva University Boy’s High School and then the Beth Rivkah Institute, a private girls school.
Burial ground discovered
Human remains discovered near site during sewer excavations on Bedford and Church Avenues.
Flatbush School Number 1 renamed PS90.
Second school building constructed on the Bedford-Church Site
More remains found
Human remains found during construction of Bedford Avenue near the site. Human remains reportedly removed and reburied on land near Holy Cross Cemetery.
Much of today’s site deeded to the Town of Flatbush for the construction of Village School No. 1. Historians reported that human remains were found in 1842 during excavation for the basement of Flatbush School No. 1
Slavery Abolished in New York State
An estimated 783 enslaved people lived in Flatbush, and three-quarters of the town’s white households owned slaves 1
Burial grounds established
A separate burial ground for enslaved and freed people of African descent established on land owned by the Flatbush Reformed Church. New burials were performed through at least 1810 and possibly through the 1840s.
Church and cemetery constructed
Dutch settlers construct the Dutch Reformed Church and adjacent cemetery
1 LPC, Flatbush District No 1, p 2
Documents and Presentations
Parks Department Presentation at Virtual Input Meeting, April 24, 2023
“Bedford-Church Community Engagement Report,” December 2021
“The Future of the FABG Site,” December 8, 2021
“Archeological Topic Intensives Study to Identify the Descendant Community for the 2286 Church Avenue Site,” July 2021
Historical Perspectives Inc., “Archeological Topic Intensives Study to Identify the Descendant Community for the 2286 Church Avenue Site,” July 2021
“Flatbush District No. 1 School,” LP-2285, Designation List 398, November 20, 2007
“Stage 1B Archeological Investigation PS 325-K Church and Bedford Avenues Brooklyn, New York,” 2001
Historical Perspectives Inc. “Stage 1B Archeological Investigation PS 325-K Church and Bedford Avenues Brooklyn, New York,” 2001
Excavations from Church and Bedford Ave Site (2001), NYC Archaeology Repository
Excavations from Church and Bedford Ave Site, NYC Archaeology Repository
You may also see this content by visiting https://archaeology.cityofnewyork.us/collection/map/p-s-325/project/p-s-325-k-church-and-bedford-avenues-brooklyn-new-york-2001
“Stage 1A Archeological Assessment, Beth Rivka School Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York,” 2000
Historical Perspectives Inc., “Stage 1A Archeological Assessment, Beth Rivka School Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York,” 2000
April 27, 2023 CB14 Flatbush African Burial Ground Task Force Meeting
- Report on the status of the Flatbush African Burial Ground
- Discussion of community-led activities
- Other business
(The video below may take a few seconds to load)
April 21, 2022 CB14 Flatbush African Burial Ground Task Force Meeting
- Discussion of the status of the site of the Flatbush African burial ground and the role of the community board
- Other business
(The video below may take a few seconds to load)
October 20, 2022 CB14 Flatbush African Burial Ground Task Force Discussion
Starting at 32:18: Discussion about the status of the Flatbush African Burial Ground. Presentation below.