The city has become an archeological site, with thousands of artifacts, such as an 18th-century bone toothbrush with animal hair bristles and wine and champagne bottles corked centuries ago, unearthed to prove it.
A copper half-penny and a pair of children’s shoes are some of the other remnants of early New York life that workers discovered in lower Manhattan while digging to install new utilities for the growing residential and business South Street Seaport area.
Last week, under a 15-foot stretch of Fulton Street, near Wall Street, more than 100 liquor bottles from the 18th century popped up, some still intact and corked, as first reported by DNAinfo.
Archeologist Alyssa Loorya, whose Brooklyn firm is overseeing the financial district excavation, said, “You never know what you’ll find right underneath your feet in this city.
“Finding the bits and pieces that were actually used by the people in the past makes New York City’s history real,” Loorya said Wednesday. “George Washington lived right near here.”
The ordinary objects paint an extraordinary picture of the city in the 1700s and 1800s — a community of Dutch and English settlers who hadn’t yet spread north into what is today’s Manhattan. The budding metropolis and its water-borne trade were still expanding into the East River and harbor with landfills for wharves using whatever was available, including some newly found artifacts that had become garbage.
The dig is part of a four-year $40-million redevelopment project to be finished by December, said civil engineer Thomas Foley, the department’s assistant commissioner in charge of the project. About $200,000 is being spent on the archeological work, he said.