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Bones From Historic Downtown Burial Grounds Reinterred in City Hall Park

By Irene Plagianos | November 12, 2013 3:36pm
 The marker, placed in City Hall Park on Nov. 10, 2013, honors those whose remains were reburied.
The marker, placed in City Hall Park on Nov. 10, 2013, honors those whose remains were reburied.
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Courtesy of the LPC

CIVIC CENTER — Bones that were unearthed from 18th-century burial grounds near City Hall have found a permanent resting place in City Hall Park.

Fragments of human bones dating back to the 1700s were discovered during the past three years of construction around City Hall, once the site of several historic burial grounds. On Sunday, the bones were reinterred in City Hall Park, beneath a commemorative marker, the Landmarks Preservation Commission said.

“Some of the earliest New Yorkers inhabited this area and are an important part of the city’s collective story, LPC Chairman Robert Tierney said in a statement.  "They deserve to be remembered for future generations.”

There were once several graveyards in the area, adjacent to what is now Tweed Courthouse, the LPC said. One served a 1736 almshouse located where City Hall now stands, and others belonged to two prisons and a barracks for British soldiers.

Remains also came from the African Burial Ground, where thousands of deceased slaves were buried in the early 1700s.

The dozens of bone fragments that were uncovered over the past three years were found by Chrysalis Archaeology, during excavations related to the overhaul of City Hall.

According to the LPC, the majority of the bones were too small to glean much information about the deceased, like age, gender, health or ancestry, but they were similar to the thousands of fragments that had been discovered over 17 years of various construction projects in and around City Hall Park.

Those remains were also reinterred in City Hall Park in 2010 and honored with a marker. The two plaques now sit next to each other in the northeast corner of the park.