For nearly a decade, keepers of Harlem’s historical flame have insisted — in the face of official skepticism — that a significant antebellum landmark lay beneath an enormous bus depot near the Harlem River.
They had plenty of documents to show that the 126th Street Bus Depot in Upper Manhattan occupied the site of a Reformed Dutch churchyard where New Yorkers of African descent had been buried from the 17th century through the 19th century. What they lacked were any remains.
Now, they have them.
More than 140 bones and bone fragments were found at the site last summer by archaeologists under contract to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
Most compelling of all was a skull, its cranium intact, that most likely came from an adult woman of African descent.
Like the discovery 25 years ago of the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan, the find in East Harlem offers a poignant, tangible link to black history, whose traces were ignored or discarded for generations by historians who chronicled New York from a white, European standpoint.