Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tower of London (cont'd)

Pre-existing networks:

To complicate matters further, on a property I've studied arguably on both original shoreline and within an historic district, and "on" an empty parking lot that has been thought to be the "next job" in archaeology in lower Manhattan for decades, the large urban lot, once consisting of many addresses, is suddenly transformed into one address, i.e., one number, often the center of the block making the site sound like one thing, a single dwelling, and actually to be a very large building.

New York City has been fortunate to have gravity fed aqueducts built from watershed to the north, some built over the years and some still being built. I have learned that this property was to be where one of the new tunnels being built, water would or might come up from hundreds of feet below the surface, where "sandhogs" work mining the rock below NYC. It would be connected into the near-surface water network, its former past some time's found in evidence in the wooden pipes found in street digging, in fact just reported found recently nearby, probably from the time when a single reservoir served the area, an Aaron Burr founded company that became the former Chase Manhattan Bank.

The only alternative to this location I read, is to have it brought up in the "park" next to the police headquarters, a mapped "park" though never built (heard at a city hearing as "Cabrini Park") that is used as a parking place next to "1 Police Plaza" relatively new in the history of the city. These two locations present problems in public and private development, as the current owners of the South Street Seaport Historic District property have gone through many contentious building design proposals. The historic property was once to be condemned for the water tunnel and shaft under the Dinkins administration, the city's first African-American mayor. It's current owners have also had property involved in the renaissance of Times Square under the succeeding Giuliani administration.

I helped investigate the deed history and social history of the lots a number of years ago and as these siting matters and the economics of building go, it has been quite a long time, though in London it might be done quicker not as procedurally complicated perhaps. I understand the archaeology consultants were ordered to dig in the historic lot shortly after Sept 11, 2001 and the lot still is being used for visitors to the South Street Seaport. You can see where they were digging from the Google Earth and/or Windows Live Earth, the assumption being the asphalt patches where they were excavating. It's interesting to "go back" using these new online mapping tools and see some of the "after the wrecking ball" (outlawed in Manhattan) and the new construction, what may or may not have been an effective testing and recording strategy for archaeology and preservation. Truly today (groan) "the whole world is watching" (from the film, "Medium Cool").

If you've ever read "In Small Things Forgotten" by James Deetz sort of a must-read for the earlier archaeology of the Northeast, there is a passage where he's asked to look at some artifacts an architect had uncovered at a proposed building site. They were very old artifacts and James Deetz found that what was there was the unfinished construction of one Isaac Allerton, a passenger and Puritan on the Mayflower that founded the Plymouth colony. He, I found, though perhaps the last "Pilgrim" to be buried in Connecticut, moved to the cemetery maintained by Yale University, was an important merchant in the early New Amsterdam Dutch colony, one of the English who conducted business in Manhattan at "Allerton's Warehouse" just outside the "Wall" that became Wall Street, and a marker was once there onsite of the property I studied. It was also the location of the transfer of orphan settlers from the almshouse in the Netherlands, who became early dwellers in New Amsterdam, a complicated business arrangements were set up with Allerton who traded from the current state of Maine to what became New York while residing in Connecticut.

Are the remains of "Allerton's Warehouse" still under the landfill of Manhattan? I once worked on "Augustine Heerman's Warehouse" (a "Czech" as the Dutch called him, and ambassador from Maryland, sometimes cited as introducing tobacco cultivation to the Dutch) site within the New Amsterdam settlement (versus outside) and the tendency has been to dismiss the possibility based on so-called "basement depth records". I just hope they put a monument back up, and I'm sure the Mayflower Society may yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment