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Floodplain Forest, Farmland, Public Park

March 9, 2021


The Human and Non-human Lives of Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park is a 9.75-acre public park in New York City but this is only one iteration of the life of this land. The park sits on unceded Lenape land.

Ms. Silvera Seamans will begin her talk by presenting the Lenape interaction with this hardwood landscape which was watered by Minetta Brook. She will then discuss the transformation of the land into farm grants to African freedmen. This network of farms was taken away from the African community when New Amsterdam became New York in 1665. Under British rule, this land remained farmland. In 1797, the Common Council of New York purchased parcels east of the stream to create a burial ground. In 1826, the city purchased parcels west of the stream to complete the 9.75 acre “square” for a military parade ground. The parade ground was declared a public park in 1827. Ms. Silvera Seamans will conclude the lecture with her biodiversity monitoring projects in the park.

Teacher’s Resources

This lecture comes with a complete lesson plan and accompanying Google Slide deck for you to customize for your class. To make an editable copy of the Google Slides deck for your classroom, click the link and select File > Make a copy.

Learn more about the teacher resources here

Georgia Silvera Seamans, PhD

Georgia Silvera Seamans, PhD

Director and co-founder of Washington Square Park Eco Projects

Working in the field of urban forestry, Ms. Silvera Seamans’ work takes place at the intersection between the natural and built environment. The mission of her Washington Square Park Eco Projects is to monitor wild animal and plant populations found within a highly urbanized environment of New York City, and from this platform offer educational programs and plant biodiversity advocacy. This project includes monitoring the phenology of trees in Washington Square park, which began in 2019, contributing critical urban data to regional and national phenology efforts and providing experiential science learning for community members. Ms. Silvera Seamans work speaks to academics and practitioners, with publications in journals such as Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, and she is active in science writing for the general public, including publications in Urban Omnibus and Audubon Magazine.

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