City unveils plans for $1.6M plaza at ‘Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground’


Now they can really rest in peace.

City officials on Friday unveiled the design for a long-awaited, $1.6 million plaza honoring some 1,000 Native Americans and African-Americans who were buried in the 1800s, most without tombstones, at the “Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground.”

Community leaders have been pushing for the project for more than two decades.

Mayor de Blasio told dozens of people who gathered at the 2.6-acre site along 46th Avenue that “this burial ground exemplifies a history that for a very long time was ignored” and that the dead buried there “happened to be poor.”

“Their memory could have been lost, but members of this community in Flushing cared and fought to preserve this history,” the mayor said.

Renderings show that the project — expected to be completed in spring of 2021 — will include new pathways and a memorial granite wall with the names of 318 people that the Parks Department confirmed are buried at the site.

There will be room for more names as they’re uncovered.

Four tombstones discovered in 1919 are also being restored.

They were removed by former Parks Commissioner Robert Moses when he paved over the burial ground to build a park and playground in the 1930s.

The powerful parks chief included a wading pool, a baseball field and swing sets.

Moses pushed ahead even after workers found evidence of burials, including pennies that had been placed over the eyes of the dead.

Originally purchased by the town of Flushing in 1840 to bury victims of epidemic diseases, the site was used until 1898 as the final resting space for African Americans and Native Americans, as well as paupers who couldn’t afford the Flushing Cemetery just across the road.

The cemetery returned to the public spotlight in the 1990s when the Parks Department did some work there and local activist Mandingo Tshaka drew attention to its long-forgotten history.
Another renovation was undertaken in 2004 — but without including the names of all the known dead.

Historians say from 500 to 1,000 people were buried at the site — half of them children under 5 years old.

“To get to this day, you’d think would be a simple thing, but it was not,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz on Friday, referring to the years-long battle to honor the dead.