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Historic landforms of NYC

Archeological investigations were conducted at the construction site near the Metropolitan Corrections Center (MCC Tunnel) along Pearl Street lower Manhattan in late 1994.

GRA’s task was to record stratigraphic information in conjunction with known historic and potential prehistoric land use in the vicinity of Pearl Street.

During archeological monitoring remains of several features pertaining to eighteenth century tannery complexes were uncovered. The favored location of colonial tanneries along the margins of streams and major bodies of water suggested that the physical geography of the Pearl Street area differed substantially from that of the present.

Further, the presence of the Collect Pond, an extensive pre-19th century impoundment, is widely referenced in historical texts since the early Dutch occupations. Thus, the co-occurrence of the Collect Pond and the tanneries implicated a long-term functional relationship between the landscape and the leather trade. The geoarcheological studies were designed to explore such relationships by examining the composition of the subsurface sediments and tracing their origins.

In the years since the MCC Tunnel project GRA has conducted additional investigations in the same vicinity. These projects, including those in Foley Square and on Worth Street, have further advanced our knowledge of the changing landscape of lower Manhattan and its anthropogenic transformation in historic times.