By 1863, the park was already considered a masterpiece of design and had become a major attraction. It was praised at home and abroad as an exciting place to visit, a place to see and be seen.

 

This elegant drawing, by a well-known illustrator named John Bachmann, was part of a campaign to advertise the new park. It looks north toward Harlem.

click on the picture for a better view.

 

 

This illustration depicts another romantic view of the park, again looking north, with the new reservoir in the background, skating on Swan Lake, and sleigh riding in the foreground.

 

 

 

But small communities continued to live on the fringes of the new park, particularly on the southern end, which may be why the illustrations always faced the other way.

This photograph, looking southwest across Swan Lake, shows some of the remaining houses in the background. They were in the Piggery District, which ran from Fifth Avenue to Eighth Avenue along what is now 59th Street.

 

 

 

As its proponents predicted, the area around the park began to be developed.

 

 

But clusters of people continued to live all around the park until the early twentieth century, long after the area became filled with tall luxury apartment buildings.


After the destruction of the structures in Seneca Village, the strong interconnected community of inhabitants vanished without a trace. It is likely that some moved into other racial or ethnic enclaves in the city. To date, no living descendants of Seneca Village have been located.