The Vault

Bits and Pieces of Old New York, in a New Digital Collection

“Dog burial,” from a collection of prehistoric and historic materials assembled by Ralph Solecki and Stanley H. Wisniewski in the middle of the 20th century; comes from the Graham Court Site in College Point, Queens.

NYC Archaeological Repository: The Nan A. Rothschild Research Center

New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has launched a new website with images of artifacts from its archaeological collections. The site supplements a new physical respository of archaeological finds, located in Midtown. The bones, shards, and bottles in the Archaeological Repository aren’t on display for the general public to see (just researchers and scholars, by appointment), so the website is a good way to view the range of artifacts that archaeologists have collected in the city over the years.

The digs that yielded up the items in the digital archive date back to the middle of the 20th century and took place in four boroughs (with more materials, including items from poor, neglected Brooklyn, to be added “as funding allows”). The website lets you browse them using a map, or through a list of excavations, or via several thematic collections, including “Animals Among Us,” “Food and Drink in Colonial New York,” or “Historic Toys.”

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Here are a few of my favorites.

Glass marble found in City Hall Park, probably from the late 19th century. “It may have been used by adults for gaming,” write the curators of the digital archive.

NYC Archaeological Repository: The Nan A. Rothschild Research Center

Toy teapot, dating to between 1815 and 1900, found at the Van Cortlandt Mansion site in the Bronx. 

NYC Archaeological Repository: The Nan A. Rothschild Research Center

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Perfume bottle, from ca. 1800, with a red and white ridged pattern; lip and cap missing. Found in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. 

NYC Archaeological Repository: The Nan A. Rothschild Research Center

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Box with lid, probably used to hold cold cream. Found at the Van Cortlandt Mansion site in the Bronx. 

NYC Archaeological Repository: The Nan A. Rothschild Research Center

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Conch shell from the Caribbean, with section removed in order to make buttons or beads. Found at the South Ferry Terminal, Battery Park, in Manhattan. 

NYC Archaeological Repository: The Nan A. Rothschild Research Center

Teapot lid, from between 1795 and 1830. Found as part of a larger group of earthenware vessels apparently too damaged in transatlantic transit to sell, and dumped into Whitehall Slip, at the South Ferry site in Manhattan’s Battery Park. 

NYC Archaeological Repository: The Nan A. Rothschild Research Center

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