New York City’s Wall Street is among the world’s great financial marketplaces, home to the New York Stock Exchange and the Federal Reserve Bank. It was also once the location of a small wooden shed where men bought and sold other people.

The Wall Street slave market was visible for a half century until 1762, when, thankfully, it vanished. But now it can be seen again, because of a virtual reality sculpture produced by New Orleans artist Marcus Brown.

Busy passersby can now pause near the corner of Pearl Street to open an app that allows them to see an eerie metaverse model of the slave market, populated by dozens of enslaved, brown-skinned men and women.

Based on photos that Brown sent from the site, his virtual slave market stands amid the modern lower Manhattan streetscape like a piece of ghost architecture, with the bustling city all around it. To activate the site, viewers should look for a small sign with a QR code at 100 Wall St.


Marcus Brown stands beside his augmented-reality sculpture of the 18th-century Wall Street slave market.

Brown said his virtual market building isn't in precisely the same spot as the original, but it's close by in a small park that's better for pedestrians. If the technology behaves as planned, it will be possible to walk around the phantom market, and even through it, where the actual landscaping allows.

Brown said that there may not be a lot of visual evidence of American slavery left, but the truth is, we’re surrounded by it. It’s not surprising to realize that slavery was part of the history of Southern cities like New Orleans, but it’s less expected in a Northern location like New York.

And that’s the point. Brown said it’s important to remember that enslaved people helped build America’s biggest metropolis. “Manhattan is literally built on the bones of slaves,” he said, referring to the 1990s discovery of a long-forgotten graveyard of enslaved and free Black people beneath the city.


New Orleans artist Marcus Brown's augmented reality exhibit 'Solomon Northup,' is only visible with a smartphone, via a QR code displayed at the site near the corner of Esplanade Avenue and Chartres Street.

Brown is a teacher at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and an accomplished traditional sculptor. In 2012 he finished carving a trio of realistic marble statues of historic religious figures for St. Peter Claver Catholic School in the Treme neighborhood — St. Katharine Drexel, Henriette Delille, and St. Peter Claver.

But starting in 2022, he’s used augmented reality software, similar to the technology that made the popular Pokémon GO outdoor game possible in 2016, to produce seemingly three-dimensional sculptures that exist only in the iPhones of observers.

To view Brown’s first such piece, “Slave Trails,” look for a QR code near the historical marker titled “New Orleans and the Domestic Slave Trade” on the neutral ground at the corner of Esplanade Avenue and Chartres Street.

Digital art maestro Marcus Brown has used augmented reality software to produce the ghosts of 41 enslaved people who mark the place that Solomon Northup, author of “Twelve Years a Slave,” was sold in a “slave pen” on Esplanade Avenue. Search for a review of this metaverse masterpiece on

To find his second piece, a tribute to Solomon Northup, the author of “Twelve Years a Slave,” a memoir that recounts the cruelties of human bondage in the years before the Civil War, search the same intersection for the Northrup historic marker.

A third, as yet unpublicized, piece titled “Passage” can be found at the French Quarter riverfront near the Moonwalk that leads to Jackson Square. Look for the QR code on the “Transatlantic Slave Trade” historical marker.

Brown said that this augmented reality sculpture depicts a slave ship filled with the prone bodies of captives. He said it’s especially “creepy” because the ship itself is invisible, but the enslaved people and the ships’ shadow can be seen against the flowing river.


Marcus Brown's virtual installation 'Passage' marks a spot where ships unloaded human cargo in New Orleans.

In the long run, Brown said, he wants to continue placing similar unseen sculptures across the country, producing what he calls “a decentralized memorial to slavery.”

“It’s a colossal story,” Brown said. “We spend a lot of time on the data, but sometimes it doesn’t add up until you see a visual presentation.”

Brown said that both the Wall Street installation and the newest New Orleans installation on the Mississippi are visible now, but he intends them as somber celebrations of Juneteenth 2023, on June 19. Brown will be absent on the holiday that marks emancipation, because he will be presenting an exhibit of his artwork in Seoul, South Korea.


Marcus Brown's virtual Wall Street slave market in the heart of Manhattan's financial district.

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