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18th century almshouse found in New York

The foundations of an alms house dating back to the 1700s has been found at New York City’s City Hall.

City officials yesterday reported artifacts of the poorhouse right behind City Hall, including what appears to be the original foundation sitting adjacent to a modern-day retaining wall.

“It’s not surprising to find remnants of historic structures,” said Amanda Sutphin, director of archaeology at the Landmarks Preservation Commission. “But to be this close to the retaining wall is a little shocking.”

She said a three-day dig uncovered hundreds of artifacts, from clay pipe stems to pottery shards to bones of butchered animals, all suspected to date from the 1700s. Tests are continuing to confirm the dates.

“There were lots and lots of bones,” Sutphin reported. “This was a pretty big institution.”
The two-story almshouse stood from 1736-1797 in an area that dates back to Dutch days and now serves as City Hall Park and includes both City Hall and the infamous Tweed Courthouse.

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