Dec. 16, 1835, a horrific fire destroyed most of Lower Manhattan.
Around 700 buildings were gutted. On the basement floor of a
building at South and Front Street, these burnt grapes and coffee
beans were recovered. In those days a grocer usually kept coffee
beans, tea, spices and dried fruits. "Perhaps," Dallal
says "he wanted to sell the grapes to a wine maker."
Hans Kierstede had problems getting drugs for his patients, so he
made his own.
"He was also an apothecary," says Diane Dallal, an urban
archaeologist at New York Unearthed, the South Street Seaport Museum's
offsite urban archaeology museum at 17 State St.
remains of Dr. Kierstede's home and office were found in 1980 beneath
the present-day Nasdaq building, when archaeologists were looking
for a warehouse of the Dutch West India Company. The hospital remains
were dated to the late 1600s. "We also found the remnants of
the warehouse floor. It was owned by a gentleman named Augustine
Heermans, a tobacco trader and a slave merchant," says Dallal.
archaeology in New York is a recent profession. "Professional
archaeology in New York did not begin until 1980-81," says
Dallal. "Earlier, avocational archaeologists used to go uptown
or Harlem or the Bronx and dig. Lots of the artifacts found were
Native American remains and Revolutionary War material," she
says. "In 1980, new laws were in place that required certain
environmental regulations be followed."
of the first official excavations in New York was conducted on
Pearl Street in downtown Manhattan in 1980. Across Pearl Street
from Fraunces Tavern, a building was going up and archaeologists
from New York University were called in to investigate.
knew that it was the site of the first Dutch city hall," Dallal
says. "Though they never found the city hall, they did find
the Lovelace Tavern [named after Francis Lovelace (administrator
between 1668 and 1673), the second English governor of New York].
But Lovelace was no longer able to use the Dutch city hall-it was
dilapidated-so they used the tavern to continue their business,
they would eat, smoke
they even had a jail in there,"
with the discovery of the Lovelace Tavern, thousands of other artifacts
were also found. The artifacts shed light on the trade and commerce
practiced at that time.
"We found wine bottles, smoking pipes and dishes," Dallal
says. "All spoke of the style that was prevalent then. The
maker's marks on the pipes were from other countries. So that added
a lot to our understanding of the history and economy of that period."
is now researching pipes. She picked up a remnant of one and pointed
to the manufacturer's marks. "R. TIPPET" it reads.
"Most of the smoking pipes date from 1740-1780. On all
his pipes he stamps his name. We found that there was a family called
Tippets, who used to make pipes in Bristol, England," she says.
African Burial Ground between Duane and Reed Streets was
another fortunate find. A slave cemetery, it was excavated in the
early 1990s, says Dallal. While the federal government was constructing
a new building, they found human remains. The bodies are still being
studied at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
was so much construction that they didn't wait," says Dallal.
"They dumped 20 feet of landfill when they were building Broadway
to even out the streets. As luck or misfortune would have it,
they found the remains and halted the construction. They removed
400 bodies, but even now there are thousands more."
says that the developers did not like the fact that they had to
pay for the archaeologists who were brought to work in case of any
historical find. In fact, right at the spot where N.Y. Unearthed
now stands, Jewish families in the early 18th century were believed
to have made their home.
we didn't have a chance to excavate. The developer went all the
way to the bedrock. To make sure that others don't do it, the city
directed him to pay the cost of this building [N.Y. Unearthed]!"
million artifacts are now stored at the South Street Seaport
Museum and Dallal's job is to preserve them for posterity.
FRAUNCES TAVERN: "After the American Revolutionary War,
on Dec. 4, 1783, Gen.George Washington bade an emotional farewell
to his officers at a banquet held in the Long Room located
on the second floor of this tavern. Samuel Fraunces, a West
Indian innkeeper was the proprieter; he later became Washington's
chief steward. Fraunces, also an American patriot, was host
to secret meetings of the Sons of Liberty and gave aid to
American prisoners of war. The present building, purchased
by the Sons of the Revolution in 1904 was restored by them
on this site and has since been maintained by them."
City Community Trust, 1976
replica of the smoking pipes found during excavation in downtown
New York in 1980.
The African Burial Ground site, a National Historic Landmark
between Duane and Reed Street, in preparation for its memorialization
BASEMENTS, 1820s: Beneath
a modern parking lot, archaeologists found artifacts mingled
with debris from the last building that was torn down on this
site. This debris is made up of pieces of the building as
well as things that were inside when it was demolished. The
artifacts found in the demolition debris of an 1828 building,
date from the early 19th century when the building was built
to the late 20th century when it was torn down.