Workers digging at a site of the World Trade Center's future "underground vehicle security center," an area which had never been excavated for the original World Trade Center, found the remains of an eighteenth-century ship on Tuesday.
By Wednesday, the outlines made it plain: a 30-foot length of a wood-hulled vessel had been discovered about 20 to 30 feet below street level on the World Trade Center site, the first such large-scale archaeological find along the Manhattan waterfront since 1982, when an 18th-century cargo ship came to light at 175 Water Street.
The imagination runs wild with thoughts of what events transpired to bring this ship to rest in this spot beneath Manhattan. Was it shipwrecked in a terrible storm? Could there be gold in there somewhere? Something to do with pirates? How did it get so far underground? Did eighteenth-century mole people live inside it? So many mysteries!
About the farthest [archaeologists] Mr. Mackey and Mr. Pappalardo would go in conjecture was to say that the sawed-off beams seemed to indicate that the hull had deliberately been truncated, most likely to be used as landfill material.
A 1797 map shows that the excavation site is close to where Lindsey’s Wharf and Lake’s Wharf once projected into the Hudson.
18th-Century Ship Found at Trade Center Site [City Room/NYT]