Friday, August 20, 2010

Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground Parks Department Neglect

An area near the entrance to the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground (aka Martins Field) is strewn with smelly, unsightly, unmaintained vegetation. On Monday trash was strewn across a plaque honoring the 500 to 1,000 blacks and American Indians buried there in the 19th century after dying of small pox and cholera. The city renamed Martins Field, Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground, in December to honor the remains of African Americans and native Americans who had been buried there more than 100 years ago.  (Photo by Connor Adams Sheets)


It’s the middle of August and the grass has turned brown in many of Flushing’s outdoor spaces from Kissena Park to Flushing Cemetery, according to Fresh Meadows

But the grass and foliage at the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground, known until December 2009 as Martins Field, is in particular disrepair.

On Monday evening, piles of rotting, pungent vegetation greeted visitors just inside the ground’s gates, grass and shrubs were sunburned and dead, caution tape encircled most trees. Trash was strewn across a plaque honoring the 500 to 1,000 blacks and American Indians buried there in the 19th century after dying of small pox and cholera.

That state of disrepair does not sit well with Mandingo Tshaka, the Bayside community activist who was instrumental in getting the site renamed to reflect the honor of the people who were buried under what is now a city park. He is looking to encourage the city to take better care of the site.

“The Parks Department totally eradicated the history of my people and disregarded them and you’ll see it right out here in Flushing,” he said. “It’s time that this city stand up and do the right thing: Respect this cemetery.”

Located between 164th and 165th streets along 46th Avenue in Flushing, the renaming of the site was a result of a longtime effort led by Tshaka and the Martins Field Conservancy. Tshaka started advocating on behalf of the site more than two decades ago.

The burial site, which dates back to the 1840s, was known as the Colored Cemetery of Flushing and was a burial ground between 1840 and 1898.

The city, under the direction of developer Robert Moses, paved over the burial ground in 1936 to build a playground and pool at the site, in violation of city law, and the name was changed to Martins Field. In 2006, the city performed $2.7 million in renovations at the burial ground, such as adding a steel picket fence, new sidewalks and a playground with a commemorative plaque.

“The city never apologized for what it did,” Tshaka said in December 2009. “They left the remains exposed.”

Read More:

Fresh Meadows - August 19, 2010 - By Connor Adams Sheets 

Queens Times Ledger -  December 31, 2009 -  By Nathan Duke

1 comment:

  1. if you google Everett P. Martin,you will read the full story of poor whites and wealthy individuals also buried at this site during the four epidemics in the 1840-1870 era.
    the local media never prints this fact. it is not a white vs black situation that has been falsely reported ,by poor research of so-called journalists.
    they must not have read the plaques.
    Duke printed the wrong middle initial of Martin (M) and he enabled tchaka to slander Martin as a "RACIST".

    see:letter to the editor,n.y.times12/15/1913"FIFTY YEARS OF FREEDOM" by Everett P. Martin...("recent expo. showed great progress of colored people" this article is not the writing of a racist.the reporter and tchaka need to apologize in the media. why was the fact that whites were buried also omitted from the articles?
    the weeds planted look horrible even when green,the walkway fences are chicken wire strength. local elderly homeowners tell me that groups of people visit and leave their trash,and drive away for others to clean up.

    the racial guilt trip has to end eventually,if the truth is exposed.