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Bits and pieces of the lives led long before the age of skyscrapers are scattered throughout New York City, found in backyards, construction sites, street beds, and parks. Indigenous tools used thousands of years ago; wine jugs from a seventeenth-century tavern; a teapot from Seneca Village, the nineteenth-century Black settlement displaced by Central Park; raspberry seeds sown in backyard Brooklyn gardens—these everyday objects are windows into the city’s forgotten history.

Buried Beneath the City uses urban archaeology to retell the history of New York, from the deeper layers of the past to the topsoil of recent events. The book demonstrates how the archaeological record often goes beyond written history by preserving mundane things—details of everyday life that are beneath the notice of the documentary record. These artifacts reveal the density, diversity, and creativity of a city perpetually tearing up its foundations to rebuild itself. Buried Beneath the City is at once an archaeological history of New York City and an introduction to urban archaeology.

NAN A. ROTHSCHILD is an urban social archaeologist who was Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and is adjunct professor at Columbia University.

AMANDA SUTPHIN is the director of archaeology at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and manages the NYC Archaeological Repository: The Nan A. Rothschild Research Center.

Buried Beneath the City: An Archaeological History of New York
Image: Columbia University Press, 2022

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Event Type(s) Talks and Debates
Admission / Cost FREE
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The Skyscraper Museum

About Founded in 1996, The Skyscraper Museum is a private, not-for-profit, educational corporation devoted to the study of high-rise building, past, present, and future. Located in New York City, the world's first and foremost vertical metropolis, the museum celebrates the city's rich architectural heritage and examines the historical forces and individuals that have shaped its successive skylines. Through exhibitions, programs, and publications, the museum explores tall buildings as objects of design, products of technology, sites of construction, investments in real estate, and places of work and residence.
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