Imagine leaving the Kingdom of the Kongo or the colony of Angola as a Portuguese-speaking Catholic and being kidnapped on your way to Brazil or the Caribbean by Calvinist pirates. Imagine arriving on the island of Manahatta to see animals, plant life, and people you have never seen. People who have an entirely different view on the universe and creation. Imagine the same people who brought Catholicism to your country are the same people that were taking you to Brazil or the Caribbean to work as a slave. What do you believe in on the slave ship, on the pirate ship, and while living on the island of Manahatta?

Faith plays a large role in the shaping of the 17th century. The Dutch, Spanish, French, and English are having wars with each other and within their own nations over varying views on Christianity while enslaving others. At times, becoming a Christian was a pathway out of slavery but this began to narrow as the Transatlantic Slave Trade encompasses more nations.

Imagine living in New Amsterdam where Black people were able to get married in the Dutch Reform Church in the 1640s but after the transition to New York, Black people are not allowed to be Christian. Now imagine new laws being passed that allow you to become Christian but establishes that if you were enslaved before becoming a Christian, you would remain enslaved. What would you believe in?




In 1643, Director General of New Amsterdam Wilhem Kieft began granting Black people in the colony/outpost of New Netherland land and half freedom. The previously enslaved would have to purchase their children’s freedom and pay an annual tribute to the company. The first two Black land owners were Catalina and Domingo, both from Angola. She receives 8 acres of land and he receives 12 acres of land July 13th 1643. These land grants were given during a time known as Kieft’s War that started earlier that spring between the Dutch and the First Nations. Kieft wanted to create a buffer zone between New Amsterdam and the trail the First Nations used to attack the town. In this sense, Black people from Angola and the Kongo expanded their freedoms because of the resistance of Native Americans.

What Catalina and Domingo begin will become known as the Land of the Blacks and will stretch from the West to East Village of present day New York City. It will grow to become twice the size of today’s SoHo. A total of 28 land grants will be earned by former Company Slaves from 1643 to 1663. The Land of the Blacks will continue into the time of New York City that starts September 1664.



Other Side of Wall Street

It’s 1625.

Cresting across the Atlantic Ocean is a Portuguese slave ship headed to South America that is seized by Dutch West India pirates. Eleven men are removed from the ship and taken to Manahatta – an island of many hills and home to First Nations. These souls serve as “company slaves”, building some of the major public works of New Amsterdam that still exists today. Working together, they learn a new culture and strategize to gain freedom in a new world constantly in flux. Other Side of Wall Street is their remarkable untold story of discover, resilience, and dream. Now available this summer as a walking tour and graphic novel series.


Other Side of Wall Street (1609-1680)

Length: 1.5 hrs | Saturdays at 7:30pm | Meet up at Washington Square Park under the Arch at 5th Avenue

The first story in the trilogy starts in 1643 with the beginning of a small town known as Land of the Blacks right outside the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. By 1655, the Land of the Blacks was over twice the size of SoHo today and it continued to exist after the British took the island from the Dutch, making it the first free Black community in New York. This walking tour explains how this community started, how it functioned, and how it continued to exist into the 18th century. The creation of this overlooked Black town is the foundation to the Black Gotham Experience.

Book Now




A limited quantity of Other Side of Wall Street Preview Edition copies are now available for order.

Black Gotham Salon Series

The Black Gotham Salon Series

The Black Gotham Salon Series are gatherings held to raise funds, gain friends, and discuss the ideas behind the Black Gotham Experience in an intimate setting. Each salon is hosted by a champion of the Black Gotham Experience and features a behind the scenes view into the project by the founder and lead creative, Kamau Ware. The host selects a theme or topic and an aspect of the project they wish to highlight.


Salons are held at our Work/Space residency in the Seaport District.

192 Front Street | New York, New York 10038

Seaport District between Fulton Street and John Street; right next to the Broadway Tickets store. Train Access: A, C, 2, 3, 4, 5, J, or Z to Fulton Street.

Our firs salon event will be on Tuesday May 23rd 7pm-9pm and hosted by Advisory Board Member, Paula Greif. Tickets can be purchased below.



More on Salons

Salons started in Italy in the 16th century and began to flourish in the 17th and 18th century, particularly in France. The basis of a salon is an intimate place of equality where everyone can develop their intellect among participants gathered in a large room of the host, known as the salon. Most salon hosts have been hosted by prominent women who channeled these gatherings as an informal university and a space to share literary works in male dominated societies.



Black Gotham Experience is presented by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council as part of the River To River Festival 2017. River To River, a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council public engagement initiative, inspires residents, workers, and visitors in Lower Manhattan, by connecting them to artists, new ideas, and perspectives, and other art-lovers to demonstrate the role that artists play in creating vibrant, sustainable communities.
The Black Gotham Experience residency was made possible with special support provided by The Howard Hughes Corporation.