New York’s Dark History: The Meal Market

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posted on Dec. 15, 2016
by Rick Fo

Traveling can expand your horizons, destroy stereotypes and presumptions. It can also be an opportunity to remember people that have suffered and so we can enjoy the life we do today. No matter how bright and neon-weaved New York is, it history, like most locations in the world is full of human suffering and tragedy.

New York City might be the most exciting city in the world, but we need to remember that human tragedy was indelibly part of its history. Although New York was undoubtedly pro-abolition during the Civil War, before that was an entirely different story unfortunately. According to historical documents in the mid 1700’s 40% of New York’s populations owned slaves.

Wall Street: It gets darker

If you visit Wall Street today, it is the financial center of New York, some even argue the world. Hundreds of years before though, where Wall  Street met the East River, was the second largest slave market in United States, even amongst the Southern States. This location became known as the Meal Market, because of a law stating it was the exclusive location where grains could be sold.


Even darker a fact is that Wall Street’s namesake taken literally a wall that blocked the passage between the rivers so to protect Dutch settlers from Native American raids. This wall was built by slaves. The exact contemporary location of the Meal Market is 75 Wall Street (enclosed between Water and Pearl Street). Until 2015 there was nothing commemorating this, not a plaque, a statue or memorial. Unfortunately it hasn’t gotten better.

The Sad Memorial

Unfortunately authorities did not attempt to memorialize the location with the respect and dignity it deserves. Three hundred years after the Meal Market was opened, a small plaque with staunch information regarding the history of the location was unveiled. The plaque is no bigger than plaques scattered throughout the city commemorating famous residents and their homes. Hopefully one day the individuals that spend their life building up New York to its current glory, without freedom or compensation, will be recognized for their contributions and the tragedy of their short lives.


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