Leisure gardening with tourmaline | magazine


Scenes of beauty, life and love in the midst of bondage are the inspiration for the Pleasure Gardening tour by the artist Tourmaline. Organized to mark the celebrations of June 10th, 2021, the holiday that marks the emancipation of enslaved blacks in the United States, this audio walking tour of Manhattan brings together real-world spaces where people invented and then freed themselves during slavery and other forms have practiced involuntary bondage.

Of Salacia and her vision of a local monument on Rikers Island for her most recent photographs, tourmaline was captivated by pleasure gardens. During her research, she found that these gardens – sometimes referred to as amusement parks or public gardens – were created on the outskirts of Lower Manhattan and established by blacks as a meeting place. While there are no photographs of these gardens, we can think of them as places where blacks could feel the lushness of the earth or indulge each other at a time when slavery was still legal.

We invite you to explore these stories in Pleasure Gardening with Tourmaline, where you will hear from the artist and others – including abolitionists, educators, historians, curators, and scholars – who not only tend their own pleasure gardens, but also those they plant Our ancestors.

With nine short audio stops, accompanied by the soundscape of the musician and mystic Laraaji, this tour visits four locations across New York City. Wherever you are, you can follow below as the stops are given more context and evocative imagined by the illustrations by Ebony Flowers.

Introduction to pleasure gardening with tourmaline

Ebony flowers. Pleasure Gardening map with tourmaline walking tour. 2021

View of Vandewater Street at the corner of Frankfurt Street, 1863, by Major & Amp;  Scarcely

View of Vandewater Street at the corner of Frankfurt Street, 1863, by Major & Knapp

Boarding House for Black Sailors, 330 Pearl Street (Part 1)

The Boarding House for Black Sailors, also known as the Colored Sailors’ Home, was founded in 1829 by Albro and Mary Lyons, prominent black abolitionists who owned property across Manhattan and used their wealth to make other Black people possible. The boarding house, which was originally located at 20 Vandewater Street and crossed both Frankfort and Pearl Streets, was destroyed in 1863. Its approximate location today is 330 Pearl Street.

Hear Cynthia R. Copeland, public historian and president of the Institute for the Exploration of Seneca Village, and discuss the connections between the Underground Railroad and the Boarding House for Black Sailors.

Boarding House for Black Sailors, 330 Pearl Street (Part 2)

In addition to serving as a stopover along the subway and a place where liberated blacks could find shelter in a time of physical and financial exclusion, we could also think of the boarding house as a place where black sailors came together to laugh and secrets to share glances and maybe even sunbathe and feel the East River breeze.

Hear from Tourmaline and her former college professor Robin DG Kelley as they ponder some of the ways the Black Sailors might have practiced the dream of freedom.

African Mutual Aid Society, 42 Baxter Street (Part 1)

42 Baxter Street, taken from Columbus Park, 2021. Photo: Arlette Hernandez

42 Baxter Street, taken from Columbus Park, 2021. Photo: Arlette Hernandez

The African Society for Mutual Relief held its first meeting in a school building on Rose Street. In 1820, 12 years after its inception, the company moved to 42 Baxter Street (then Orange Street), a transition supported by a $ 1,800 gift from Juliette Noel Toussaint who worked with one of the leading hairdressers the city was married to the city in the early 19th century.

“You have to understand that [at that time] 1,800 US dollars was a lot of money for an association whose members paid 25 cents a year for membership, ”says Mariame Kaba. “So it was a significant donation. She’s a woman, a black woman, whose name few know, but she was incredibly important to Black New York’s mutual help. “

Hear as Mariame Kaba, founder of the NIA project, researches the history of the African Society for Mutual Relief.

African Mutual Aid Society, 42 Baxter Street (Part 2)

The dreams of freedom initiated by the African Society for Mutual Relief echo to this day, often despite – or, in the case of Marsha P. Johnson’s work, in opposition – to the systems of bondage on Baxter Street.

Hear tourmaline reflect on Marsha P. Johnson’s activism on this page.

David Ruggles’ house at 36 Lispenard Street

Edmund V. Gillon.  Church Street between Lispenard Street and Walker Street.  c.  1975. New York City Museum

Edmund V. Gillon. Church Street between Lispenard Street and Walker Street. c. 1975. New York City Museum

When David Ruggles interfered in New York’s abolitionist movement, no black person, free or otherwise, was safe in the city. On several occasions, emancipated black residents have been abducted and sold into slavery. In the midst of this lingering danger, Ruggles declared, “In our cause, mere words are nothing – actions are everything.”

There is no trace of David Ruggles’ original home, which was in the same location as the brick building on the left of this photo. The building now houses a café, and only a plaque at the rear of the building pays tribute to this history and Ruggles’ merits.

Robin DG Kelley, reflecting on Ruggles and the dreams of freedom he started from home, asks us to reflect on the stories and places that have been lost or forgotten: “What would New York City look like if there was more militant resistance would have given? hold on to these rooms? How do you defend these spaces? Think how many historic spaces in New York have been destroyed, not yet by dramatic acts of violence, but by pre-eminent government policies, highway construction, urban renewal – that kind of gentle power that was far more destructive. “

Hear writer and activist Mariame Kaba describe how David Ruggles fought for black freedom in and outside of New York City.

Seneca Village, Central Park between West 82nd and West 89th Streets (Part 1)

“Summer home east of 8th Avenue.” Rare Book Department, The New York Public Library

At a time when the black residents of New York City were banned from owning land, a black community emerged nonetheless. The village of Seneca extends from 82nd through 89th streets in what is now Central Park and has been home to countless black families. The parish came into being in 1825 after Andrew Williams, an African American who lived downtown, bought three lots.

“It’s going to be kind of an integrated community,” says Cynthia R. Copeland, educator and public historian. “We had landowners in Seneca village in the 19th century, which was just amazing. And seeing people come from different parts of the country – New Jersey and the east coast of Maryland. We had someone who supposedly came from the west. We had a member described as being from Africa and someone from Haiti. There’s this mixed mix of families that happens in the church. “

Hear from Cynthia R. Copeland how archaeological research helped us rethink the Seneca village.

Seneca Village, Central Park between West 82nd and West 89th Streets (Part 2)

Citing a significant domain, the government’s right to claim private property for public use, the village of Seneca was razed when construction of Central Park began in 1857. Hundreds of people have been displaced and the effects of this forced movement are still difficult to uncover.

Still, the spirit of Seneca Village persists and takes on new shapes with each person who takes on this story. In the words of Tourmaline, “As more and more people learn about the history of Seneca Village and the history of Central Park, people can build their own relationships and gain meaning from this location. This is really a story about our expansive desires, their history, and our now how we use them [desire] as a launch pad to expand even further. “

Listen to Tourmaline’s reflections on how Seneca Village manifests itself today.

Ebony flowers.  Original illustration for Tourmaline's Pleasure Gardening walking tour.  2021. With the kind permission of the artist

Ebony flowers. Original illustration for Tourmaline’s Pleasure Gardening walking tour. 2021. With the kind permission of the artist

While no photos of Seneca Village have been confirmed, we know that early illustrations describing the community as a “squatter settlement” are far from accurate. We can reimagine Seneca Village by looking at photos of Central Park during construction in 1862 or just before construction began in 1858.

Perhaps the most telling depictions of Seneca Village, however, are those developed from the dreams of freedom of artists and caretakers like Ebony Flowers, the illustration of which shows us a vision of Seneca Village that is anchored not in empty space but in people and community.

With special thanks to the guests who accompanied Tourmaline on their tour, including:
Cynthia R. Copeland, President, Seneca Village Research Institute
Mariame Kaba, Director, Project NIA
Robin DG Kelley, Distinguished Professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair of US History, University of California, Los Angeles

Some additional resources and bibliography

Central Park Conservation Area. Explore Seneca Village: Selected Research Topics and Resources. September 2020.

Central Park Conservation Area. Seneca Village Site.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Black New Yorkers: 1613-1865. The New York Public Library.

Marie Warsch. “Exploring Northern Central Park: A Story Told Through Rocks and Hills.” Urban omnibus, 2015.

Asha Futterman and Mariame Kaba. Radical Black Women of Harlem Walking Tour. Barnard Center for Women’s Studies.

The Black Gotham Archives.

Columbia University. Seneca village project.

MoMA PS1. Classroom: Black Trans Liberation: Memoriam and Deliverance.

MoMA Audio is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.


About Rachael Garcia

Check Also

Enjoy the prevailing festive atmosphere at Milan’s Garden Center Christmas Shop

A professional quality of service continues to be offered at Mountbellew, Milans Garden Centre, Florist …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.