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Old Tombs Excavated at Collect Pond Park Construction

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[Photos by Pete Davies]

The excavation and renovation of Collect Pond Park at Centre and Leonard Streets have unearthed a foundational link to the city's criminal history. Archaeologists identified a collection of stones discovered under the site as belonging to one iteration of New York's Tombs jail, where city prisoners have been held since 1839. The Tombs was built on top of the Collect Pond in 1838, after the freshwater reservoir was rendered useless by over-pollution and filled in. The recently discovered stones belonged to the second incarnation of the jail, built in 1902 and officially called the New York City Halls of Justice and House of Detention.

While the first neo-Egyptian style Tombs succumbed to the soft sinking land at the site of the old pond, the second version's foundation stones were sturdy enough to remain in place all these years. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation worked with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to preserve the stones as they lie in place—rerouting drainage and other pipes so as not to disturbe the foundation. Their place below the park, however, is not being incorporated into the new design.
· Discovering More Tombs Beneath a Downtown Park [DX]
· Collect Pond Park coverage [Curbed]
· Project Updates - Collect Pond Park [Lower Manhattan Info]
· Collect Pond Park [NYC Parks]