The (not-so-big) dig

The Brooklyn Paper

The promise of construction of the Brooklyn Bridge Park development along the DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights waterfront may be a symbol of a glorious future for the borough — but it has also revealed a scintillating symbol of Brooklyn’s glorious past.

Workers who have begun prepping Pier 1 to become a large sweeping front lawn for the hotel, condo and open-space development have unearthed a 19th-century flour mill that operated when a thriving, independent Brooklyn was the region’s bread basket.

Indeed, uncovering the former Jewell Brothers’ mill, which stood from 1830s until 1910 at the foot of what was then called Fulton Street, but is now Old Fulton Street, is a metaphor for Brooklyn’s decline.

“The Brooklyn Bridge was built and the city of Brooklyn became much more of a commuter town,” said Alyssa Loorya, an outside archeologist hired by the state to investigate and catalogue the brick-and-wood mill.

Construction projects in the city frequently reveal fragments of forgotten New York, but compared to the mother lodes at the African Burial Ground or South Ferry station digs in lower Manhattan, the pit on Pier 1 yielded modest artifacts.

The dig measured roughly 30 by 10 feet and. In addition to the mill’s charred foundation, which bore the mark of a ruinous fire, the area yielded minor artifacts like bottles of beer and patent medicine as well as pieces of pottery.

The crater, which was sealed off to the public after a guided tour earlier this month, will soon be covered over as park construction truly gets underway. Though covered, the mill ruins will be preserved, Loorya said, in case future archeologists want to dig it up again someday.

Though focused on getting construction of her open space underway, Regina Myer, president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation, the state agency charged with building the 85-acre development, said she enjoyed a look back into history.

“It shows the foundations of our city’s past,” marveled. “Furman Street was lined with warehouses that stored the goods that came into the port.”

Reader Feedback

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Links