Scholars are descending on a parking lot on the north shore of Staten Island after locals rediscovered the history buried beneath the asphalt.
The parking lot on the corner of Forest and Livermore Avenue was once the African Methodist Episcopal Church cemetery — an old burial ground for enslaved Africans and their descendants, NBC New York reports.
"This was specifically for African American people. Some were slaves, some were the descendent of the enslaved, some were family, some were African American residents who never knew slavery," historian Patricia Salmon told NBC.
The land is a final resting place for as many as 1,000 African-Americans but now serves as parking for a 7-Eleven, Metro PCS, Sherwin-Williams and Santander Bank. Many of those who lay in cemetery helped build the neighborhood that eventually paved over their graves.
Historians say the burial ground was the only place on the north shore for African Americans to be buried from the 1850s to early-1900s. In the 1950s, the ground was repossessed by the city due to $11,000 owed in back taxes. A few years later, the city sold the property. It was paved over to make way for a service station and then a shopping center.
Local NAACP leaders say they want to put the cemetery back on the map and restore dignity to those who are buried there.