Archive for February 2005
“South Street Seaport seeks a new caretaker for the more than 2 million artifacts in its New York Unearthed museum”
I helped create this. Posted to hist-arch forum 2/28/2005
As one of the researchers into the history of the last open lot in the South Street Seaport Historic District, currently a pay-for-parking lot, with a National Register of Historic Places property at 251 Water Street (the whole lot has been subsumed under one address “250 Water Street” as is the practice on new “block” size buildings in the area, i.e. “175 Water Street” building where the “Ronson” ship was found) I thought I might offer some background to the “New York Unearthed” demise as I also worked on it’s creation for Grossman and Associates, Inc., for Joel W. Grossman, Ph.D., who was a primary consultant in its creation, while I was in his employ, producing graphics for archaeology research and report creation from remote-sensing data and land survey data.
My involvement with this particular open lot in the Historic District, was to be provided a pretty complete “chain of title” that is a list of property owners for each of the historic lots on what was once the shoreline of New Amsterdam, (the National Register site, at 251 Water St. is on made-land or “landfill”) by Greenhouse Consultants, Inc., and as a free-lance researcher to track down and create a history from the names provided and supply background to the significance of the property, my report submitted after 3 weeks in the libraries, as requested, which also closed thereafter for renovation by the Rose family. In protest, I might add, I have never been provided a copy of what was submitted, and my copy was sent to the New York City Landmarks Commission Archaeoogist (Archaeologist) as a matter of courtest (courtesy) and professional warning that information provided might not be forthcoming in regards to this very historic block, site of the first ferry in Manhattan to Brooklyn, and the English Puritan trading enclave just outside the famous New Amsterdam Wall of Wall Street fame.
As the “chain of title” provides the former property owners addresses, City Directories, though only indexed for street addresses in certain years other years more like a modern “phonebook” indexed alphabetically, can be read for business and personal information which can also be checked in local histories of which there are many for New York if one looks.
1) South Street Seaport has done very well according to the press after 9/11/2001 as this, one of the parking lots, provided a center for visiting the former Word (world) Trade Center.
2) The current owner of the property has in the past provided designs for new buildings in the South Street Seaport Historic District which have been objected to by the current residents abutting the property and those nearby.
3) The current water tunnel being built under New York City had only two possible “break points” in Lower Manhattan, at the once proposed “Mother Cabrini Park” abutting 1 Police Plaza, the headquarters of “New York’s Finest” and (Bureau of Internal Affairs I might add, which started raining loose bricks from its parapet the day it opened) or in this parking lot. The former African-American mayor, Mayor Dinkins, (who was a voting official for many years prior to his election, appearing on voting cards in the city) was cited as wanting the property ‘condemned” as part of the city’s “eminent domain” for the new building codes downtown, which have been turning Lower Manhattan from a “9-5” to a “24” revitalization, with upper floor apartments permitting some to elevator commute to work. The current owner also owns invested property at Times Square, where another revitalization has occurred. I still have not read anywhere where the water tunnel transfer will come up from about 900 feet below the sidewalks of New York. Apparently, the police park for free on the brick surfaced park where another playground was to appear and those residents complained about in public hearings I saw on cable TV. (as I also witnessed on another set of properties, in the Bowery, home of feminist Kate Millet, I also was a researcher on and have never seen the submitted work made from my colleague’s and my work).
4) The historical significance of this lot is very interesting, from Isaac Allerton to Theodore Roosevelts’s family and required much research on my part. When will we have standards for business that fit our needs and not the needs of developers? The collection could go, in my opinion, very easily over to Fort Jay, (built by Columbia University students) on nearby Governors Island, in storage by the National Parks Service there until another appropriate facility is arranged, perhaps there on Governors Island, which I have also had the pleasure of working on in archaeology.
I was looking at this site of a visit to Great Gull Island to visit the birds there, off Orient Point, once a heavy fortress of armaments, including a 16″ naval gun, fired once, burst everyones windows, that had not known to have them open a crack. Reminded me of the two Voodoo F-101’s that used to be at Calverton, at least I thought it was them breaking the sound barrier once in awile. Anyway, I thought Robert David Lion Gardiner was instrumental in getting DDT into the public awareness and there was this interesting woman too: “Ms. Hayes has made some significant additions to research: In 1969 she documented the effects of PCBs on the nesting population (thin egg shells and deformed chicks) and lobbied successfully to reduce environmental contaminants. She was first to discover that Roseates and Commons interbreed (the down pattern on the chicks was unusual) and that Spotted Sandpipers can be polyandrous one female with several male partners, each on nests. Not to mention the priceless experiences she offered to volunteer staffers and college students over the years.” under Great Gull Island and StarSong I think.