Researchers Say Ship Dates to 1773

The vessel was unearthed at the World Trade Center site in Manhattan.

August 18, 2014

World Trade Center ship

Excavations have unearthed ships that apparently were sunk to enlarge lower Manhattan. Courtesy

Back in the early 1800s, somebody decided to weigh down a wooden ship with ballast and sink it to the bottom of the Hudson River, to extend the landmass of lower Manhattan. In July 2010, a 32-foot section of wood from the vessel was found during construction of a parking garage at the former site of the World Trade Center.

Researchers now say that section of wood dates back to 1773, before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It is white oak used as part of the ship’s frame and is believed to have come from a forest in the Philadelphia area—because it matches material that was used to build Philly’s Independence Hall.

The belief is that the ship was of Dutch design, a sloop built to ferry people and cargo. Researchers are still trying to determine whether a 100-pound iron anchor found nearby is related to the same vessel.


This is the second time since 1982 that a ship was found buried in lower Manhattan, where modern-day researchers also found an 18th-century cargo ship beneath Water Street.


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