revealing the history of Staten Island's freed oystermen
Staten Island’s Sandy Ground community was founded by free black oystermen migrating in the 1830s from Maryland. While free, these families had been subject to repressive legislative measures that inhibited their livelihood and opportunity for economic advancement. These families brought oyster seeding techniques to the depleted waters of New York, extending the oyster industry in the area until it finally succumbed to water pollution in the early 20th century.
RAFT collaborated with Jablonski Building Conservation and New York Landmarks Conservancy to develop a historic cultural landscape report and restore the final resting place of this early Staten Island community. Our plan proposes to reestablish native plants adapted to the region, specific microclimates, and the site's eponymous soil type, yielding a landscape which will thrive with reduced maintenance while honoring the history of the cemetery.