Museum to Be Built in South Carolina Where Slaves Entered US

Charleston Harbor is near Gadsden's Wharf, where an estimated 40 percent of enslaved Africans were transported to the United States in the late 18th and early 19th century.

Posted: 07/16/2014 12:51 PM EDT
Museum to Be Built in South Carolina Where Slaves Entered U.S.

(Civil War re-enactor Donald West looks out over the Charleston Harbor from Morris Island. Photo: Paul Zoeller/For the Washington Post)

Charleston Harbor, the South Carolina inlet where tens of thousands of slaves first arrived in the United States, will soon be home to a $75 million International African-American Museum.

Mayor Joseph P. Riley announced the news on Tuesday on the waterfront tract where the 42,000-square-foot museum will be built.

"We always knew this museum would be one of the most important in our country," the mayor said. "We are standing on the site that will make this museum even more powerful and important and will resonate more deeply with everyone who attends.”

Charleston Harbor is located near Gadsden’s Wharf, which was built by Revolutionary War patriot Christopher Gadsden. According to the Associated Press (AP), it is estimated that 40 percent of African slaves transported to the United States in the late 18th and early 19th century walked across it. During the final years of the international slave trade from 1803 to 1807, more than 70,000 enslaved Africans were transported to the wharf.

Proposed 13 years ago, the museum’s original site was initially planned to be constructed just across and down the street from the new site. Riley is aiming to have the money from private donations, the Charleston city and the state in place by early 2016 to begin construction. The museum should open two years afterward, if that schedule holds, AP reports.

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