While cleaning up the aftermath of the World Trade Center’s collapse, crews discovered a shipwreck located 7 feet below the foundation. This shipwreck was found to date back to 1773.
In 2010, excavators in New York City’s Lower Manhattan unearthed the remains of a wooden ship buried deep in the ground. A study revealed that the ship was constructed using timber sourced from old-growth forests in southeastern Pennsylvania around 1773. Interestingly, Independence Hall and other buildings from the Revolutionary era in Philadelphia were also built using timber harvested from the same region and during the same period. Edward Cook, a tree ring scientist at Columbia University, confirmed this connection.
The concept of using tree rings to determine time is based on how trees grow. Each year, they form a new ring of wood around their trunk. In favorable conditions, trees grow well, resulting in wider rings, whereas narrow rings indicate unfavorable or challenging years. Scientists primarily use tree rings to study weather patterns and observe changes over time.
The ship in question, a sloop—a type of sailboat—was likely constructed in a small shipyard in Philadelphia soon after the timber was harvested. Approximately two decades later, in the 1790s, the ship was considered to be junk, leading to its remains being repurposed as landfill material. This landfill was used to extend the banks of the Hudson River and create additional land in the rapidly growing city of New York.