Stadt Huys Site

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Coordinates: 40°42′14″N 74°00′39″W / 40.703954°N 74.010712°W / 40.703954; -74.010712

The Stadt Huys (an old Dutch spelling, meaning city hall) was the very first city hall in New York City built in the 17th-century during Dutch settlement (New Amsterdam). It stopped function in 1679 due to safety. It is located at what later became known as 71 Pearl Street (now demolished) in the modern-day Financial District of Lower Manhattan.

The Stadt Huys block archaeology project was the first large scale archaeological excavation in New York City in 1979-1980. At the time it was excavated, it was one of the most expensive and most productive projects of urban archeology undertaken in an American city. A lot of logistical procedures for urban archaeology had to be developed as the project evolved. Most of these procedures have become a model for performing large-scale excavations in the city.[1]

History[edit]

The Stadt Huys site consisted of land on three blocks, defined by Pearl Street, Broad Street and South William Street, and extended to the east across Coenties Alley when it was Dutch New Amsterdam.

In 1642, the Dutch West India Company built a typical 17th-century Dutch style building constructed as a City tavern named the Stadt Herbergh. In 1653, it was converted into the first City Hall. As one of the largest public buildings in the city in the 17th-century, the Stadt Huys became the center of governmental and political life in the Colony and continued functioning after the British conquered New Amsterdam in 1664. The Stadt Huys stopped functioning as the City Hall in 1679 because it was unsafe to use anymore. It stood for 20 years longer with the bad condition and was finally demolished in 1699.[2]

The King's House (also named the Lovelace Tavern) was built in 1670 by New York's second English Governor, Francis Lovelace (c. 1621–1675). The King's House was right next door to the Stadt Huys. It served as the city hall temporarily until the new city hall at the corner of Wall and Nassau Streets (now the site of Federal Hall) was built in 1703.

Excavations[edit]

An 18th century cistern below Pearl Street in Manhattan

A four-story structure was built at 71 Pearl Street in 1826, on part of the Stadt Huys Site;[3][4] the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) designated it as a city landmark in 1965.[3][5] However, it was destroyed in 1968 to make way for an office tower, plans for which ultimately stalled.[3] When 71 Pearl was being demolished, LPC researchers discovered some foundation walls from Stadt Huys.[4]

The Stadt Huys Block was one of the few blocks remaining in New York City where the remains of the Dutch occupation in New York might still exist, as it was one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in the city and a residence for many early prominent New Yorkers.[6] The Stadt Huys Block was the first archaeological project done in New York City under the auspices of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and the City Environmental Quality Review process.[1]

The Dollar Savings Bank, which purchased the property in 1979, provided $100,000 to $150,000 for initial investigations.[4][7] Con Edison and Durst Foundation joined later.

Timeline[edit]

  • 1979 – The project started with the planning of 85 Broad Street (now the Goldman Sachs headquarters). An archeological survey was required because the foundations would destroy any artifacts below the surface.
  • August 1979 – A certificate of Appropriateness for the archaeological excavation was granted. Phase one, a sensitivity study consisting of documentary research and preliminary subsurfacing boring, commenced.
  • October 1979 – The second phase commenced. On October 1, the removal of the black-top surface of the parking lot and clear the debris from the demolition of the most recent structures. On October 9, the full crew began and worked until December 31, 1979. Beginning of fieldwork and laboratory work as soon as the project started.
  • December 1979 – Dollar Savings Bank planned to transfer the land to Galbreath - Ruffin.
  • January 1980 – mitigation phase until mid-July 1980 for more time, money and chance to excavate Coenties Alley and Stone Street.
  • July–August 1980 – Construction activities on Coenties Alley and Stone Street. Fieldwork ended on August 29.
  • March 1981 – Laboratory work ends
  • December 1987 – The Project is submitted to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in December 1987

Participants[edit]

  • Directors
  • Contributors – Diane Dallal, Joseph Diamond, Mary Dieryckx, Meta F. Janowitz, Josselyn F. Moore, Kate Morgan Arnold Pickman, and Nancy Stehling[6]

Findings[edit]

The archaeologists found more than four tons of artifacts in the site included bricks and stones, glass, turkey bones, watermelon seeds, coffee beans, oyster shells, buttons, coins, and a wide array of pottery like a bright yellow cooking pot (believed to be a pitcher when excavated), vivid blue and white delftware plates, tiles and apothecary jars.

In the tavern built by Francis Lovelace, there were numerous 17th-century broken clay tobacco pipes, wine-bottle fragments; and a storage barrel brimming with empty wine and rum bottles and one perfect, unbroken clay pipe in the cellar in basement.[1]

Aftermath[edit]

The large number of artifacts uncovered led to increased awareness of archeology in New York City. The LPC hired its first archeologist in 1980 as a result of the dig.[8][9]

85 Broad Street was finished before the excavation report was completed. The developers, however, left some evidence of the site, displaying remains of King's Tavern and a well from 18th century. Around the building, there is a public plaza with information about the Stadt Huys, the Tavern and the archaeology project. The brass circular plaque on the sidewalk of the plaza has a map of the original street plan of New Amsterdam and there are colored outlines for the Stadt Huys and the King's House as the reminder of where it was.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Digging up Our Urban Past". The New York Times. 1981-04-12. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-05-12.
  2. ^ a b Cantwell, Anne-Marie E. (2003). Unearthing Gotham. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0300097993.
  3. ^ a b c Nevius, James (April 29, 2015). "How Some of NYC's First Landmarked Buildings Became Rubble". Curbed. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Fowler, Glenn (1979-10-25). "Archeologists Hard at Work At Site of the First City Hall". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  5. ^ "Pick 7 More Landmarks". Daily News. 1965-12-28. p. 299. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  6. ^ a b "The Archaeological Investigation of The Stadt Huys Block: A Final Report" (PDF).
  7. ^ DiMona, Darcy (1981-09-21). "The bull and the China Shop: a landmark encounter". Daily News. pp. 99, 103. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  8. ^ "Archaeology making urban history concrete". The Record. 1982-09-29. p. 40. Retrieved 2021-02-24.
  9. ^ Bennetts, Leslie (1982-05-21). "Archeologists Search for a Chronicle of New York". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-02-24.