6 Block Markers Rediscovered in Central Park, Grid Remnants from Before Park's Creation

A map of the City of New York, from 1811.
A map of the City of New York, from 1811.

A fascinating article recently published in the New Yorker titled Unearthing the City Grid That Would Have Been in Central Park reads more like an Indiana Jones movie premise than real life New York City archeology.

On an overcast day in November, 2014, just before Thanksgiving, two men dug a rather large hole in a lawn in Central Park. […] they unearthed a roughly three-foot-tall, nine-inch-square white stone, two sides of which were inscribed with numbers. […] It was a discovery akin to finding a marble statue submerged in a remote lake or a lamppost in the wild woods of Narnia.

Turns out the stone was a Randel Monument, one of over 1550 such that were placed at intersections of Manhattan's grid to delineate the island before the streets and avenues even existed in the Northern section. Only a couple had been thought to survive the 2 centuries since placement, and none of them were found in their original location. Until now.

First there was one, now there are six: four Randel monuments and two bolts (at least) live in Central Park. They are testament to the reversal in the great grid’s fortune, a reminder that park’s eight hundred and forty-three acres could have been a hundred and fifty-three rectangular city blocks, arrayed with tall buildings.

Check out the full article for a fascinating read on New York City history and to imagine what Central Park might have been had the space not been created.

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