new york secrets

by Anna Balkrishna and Erin O’Hara

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  • Saint Augustine's Episcopal Church Slave Galleries
    Within the simple walls of Saint Augustine's Episcopal Church on the Lower East Side lies an unlikely reminder of racial segregation in New York. Cramped staircases lead to two concealed rooms, located behind the balcony, where African-American worshippers could hear church services without being seen. The rooms were informally known as the "slave gallery," even though slavery was outlawed in New York by the time they were built in 1828. Fugitive 19th-century politician Boss Tweed, then being sought for corruption charges, reportedly hid in the gallery to attend his mother's funeral. Ignored and branded for decades as a shameful part of Saint Augustine's past, the space was recently restored and opened to the public (by appointment only) in 2009. —AB

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