Hansi Lo Wang | WGLT

Hansi Lo Wang

On Sunday mornings, the church doors at Our Lady Queen of Angels are locked up tight. Cobwebs frame the rust red doorways. But just across this cul-de-sac, in the corner of a park in New York City's East Harlem neighborhood, the weekly Mass goes on.

"This is our church. We're surrounded by trees, by the birds, the sky and very good-natured people. So no one can drag us out of here," says Margarita Barada, 91, sitting on a bench across from the closed church. She and a half-dozen faithful now meet without a priest.

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Editor's Note: This report contains a racial slur.

A new play reveals some little-known history about the land that became New York City's Central Park: People used to live there.

Beginning in 1825, about 300 people — mainly free African-Americans — lived in a village that spanned a portion of the park's 843 acres in Manhattan, between 82nd and 89th streets, east of Central Park West. It was called Seneca Village.

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