‘The Race to Dig: The Amateur Archaeologists Who Saved NYC’s Past’ Webinar
Near the turn of the 20th century, New York City’s housing, street grid, and subway infrastructure were about to reshape the bucolic landscape of Northern Manhattan, from one of verdant farmland to flat cityscapes. But this urban revolution was to come at a steep price: not just at the cost of a couple of million dollars, but to the ancient and invaluable relics belonging to the Lenape people, Dutch settlers, and Revolutionary War still buried beneath the area’s untouched soil. This is the incredible story of a rag-tag group of amateur archeologists who joined forces in a race to save the history of Manhattan before it was gone for good.
Join New York Adventure Club as we explore the remarkable legacy of New-York Historical Society’s Field Exploration Committee — described by The New York Times as “emergency historians,” this group raced to sites around Northern Manhattan to preserve buried items before they were destroyed by urban expansion projects.
Led by uptown historian and best–selling author Cole Thompson, our virtual experience surrounding these historical treasure hunters and protectors — celebrities of their day — will include:
- The origins of the Field Exploration Committee at the New-York Historical Society in the late 1800s
- The members of the group, which consisted of photographers, artists, a subway engineer, a librarian, and an insurance publisher
- Lenape era explorations that uncovered intact pottery, tools, and other artifacts associated with the daily life of Native people
- A look at rare photographs documenting the methods employed in locating shell middens, Revolutionary War artifacts, and human burials
- Stories from the team’s missions, including the exploration of a forgotten Uptown cemetery where the bodies of enslaved humans were interred before slavery was abolished in New York
- The 1916 discovery and reconstruction of a Hessian Hut behind the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum on West 204th Street and Broadway
Afterward, we’ll have a Q&A with Cole — any and all questions about the archeology of Nothern Manhattan are welcomed and encouraged!
Can’t make it live? Don’t worry, you’ll have access to the full replay for one week!
See you there, virtually! $10.
*Immediately upon registering, you will receive a separate, automated email containing the link to join this webinar
**For the best possible viewing experience, please ensure you’re using the latest version of your internet browser — Google Chrome is the most compatible. Exact technical requirements and a webinar user guide will be shared in the automated confirmation email upon registration.
***A full replay of the experience will be available to all registered guests for up to a week
An award-winning former television producer and best-selling author, Cole has hosted the popular uptown history blog MyInwood.net for nearly fifteen years. Cole has been profiled in the New Yorker in connection with his knowledge of Uptown history. In 2019 Cole co-authored a history of his neighborhood titled, Lost Inwood, with colleague Don Rice. Cole & Don often host a popular history series, also called Lost Inwood, before live audiences.Buy tickets/get more info now