Gadsden’s Wharf

Thousands of slaves first set foot onto American soil at

Gadsden's Wharf

Aerial site photo of International African American Museum

Planned site of Gadsden’s Wharf

Historians believe as many as 40% of all enslaved Africans who came to North America entered through Charleston. The most prominent Charleston slave trade landing was Gadsden’s Wharf, which took up as much as 800 feet of the river’s waterfront. Gadsden’s Wharf marks where thousands of slaves first set foot onto American soil.

The IAAM on Gadsden’s Wharf, in partnership with the National Park Service, plans to create an inspiring site that will pay tribute to the historical events that occurred, and the new lives that began there.

Elements of Gadsden’s Wharf may include:

  • Arrival Walk, a promenade featuring outdoor galleries with themes such as “African Paths to the Coast,” “The Eight Week Passage,” and “The Economics of Slave Trade.”
  • Similar to Ellis Island’s Wall of Honor, a Memorial Wall that allows the public to celebrate family members who were directly or indirectly connected to the black peopling of America. Bordering the wall, Memorial Walk stretches out to the sea, a memorial to those who died on or en route to Gadsden’s Wharf.
  • Educational Canopies which offer shade and a welcoming place for repose, providing the visitor with opportunities to learn about contributions enslaved Africans made to American society.
  • 882 Markers embedded in the ground that pay tribute to the successive arrivals of the 882 ships carrying enslaved Africans into Charleston, culminating around a central fountain.

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