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The Battery

Significant Archaeological Remnants Discovered In Battery Park; Remnants Believed To Date Back To Late 17th Century Battery That Protected The Island Of Manhattan

Thursday, December 8, 2005
No. 117

Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe today joined Landmarks Preservation Chairman Robert Tierney, Battery Conservancy President Warrie Price and President of MTA Capital Construction Mysore Nagaraja to announce an exciting archaeological discovery in Battery Park. During archaeological monitoring as part of construction on the new South Ferry Station under Battery Park, a mortared stone wall was discovered measuring more than 40 feet in length and 7 feet in width. Found at a depth of approximately 10 feet in the northeastern section of Battery Park, the wall is believed to be a segment of the City’s fortifications of the late 17th or early 18th centuries.

"We believe this wall to be an important remnant of the history of New York City and one of its oldest public parks," said Commissioner Benepe. "We will do everything in our power to preserve it for future generations. The protection and preservation of our City’s historical heritage is one of City government’s most important missions."

The date assessment is based upon artifacts found on top of and adjacent to the wall—a definitive analysis is still pending. The most exciting artifact found was a 1744 George II half penny in very good condition. Other finds include ceramics and pipe stems. A complete list of finds is not yet available.

"This wall most likely is a portion of the gun batteries that once protected the city in the late 17th and 18th centuries and gave rise to the modern park name," said Chairman Tierney. "The City and the MTA are working together to save this important find."

"The Battery is the birthplace of New York, and with this excavation we have further evidence of Manhattan’s original shoreline and its structural heritage," said Warrie Price.

"The MTA will be working with City Parks & Recreation, the State Historic Preservation Office, and the City Landmarks Preservation Commission to determine the best way to recover this important find for historic preservation purposes," said Mysore Nagaraja.

Between 1625 and 1780, a series of forts were built in the vicinity of the present-day Battery, located at Battery Place, State and Whitehall Streets. While the discovered wall could potentially be part of one of the forts, it is more likely part of a gun battery associated with one of the forts.

The wall was found during MTA construction of a new subway station, funded by the Federal Transportation Authority. Because this project was within a historically significant area, archaeologists considered it likely that archaeological resources would be found, although no one guessed that such a large portion of the Battery could have survived.


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