New York City Launches Innovative Archaeology Initiatives
Landmarks Preservation Commission Launches The Nan A. Rothschild Research Center and Website for NYC’s Archaeological Collections; Announces Partnership with The Durst Organization, Iron Mountain Incorporated, and Museum of the City of New York
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission today launched the NYC Archaeological Repository: The Nan A. Rothschild Research Center in midtown Manhattan. The launch included the release of a new website, nyc.gov/archaeology, where visitors can uncover the city’s past by searching and browsing the City’s archaeological collections, making New York City the first municipality to host a digital archive dedicated to its robust archaeological collections. The work was completed with the support of The Durst Organization, Iron Mountain Incorporated, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Fund for the City of New York.
Located at 114 W 47th Street, the Archaeological Repository is a 1,439 square foot climate-controlled space containing 1,518 boxes of archaeological artifacts from over 31 sites in all five boroughs, ranging from wine bottles from 17th century New Amsterdam to passenger pigeon bones from the 19th century. Prior to the creation of the repository, archaeological collections were stored at 14 sites throughout the city. The Landmarks Preservation Commission identified the need for a single climate-controlled space to ensure that the City’s collections are protected and preserved. The space was donated by The Durst Organization.
The Repository, which is open by appointment to researchers and scholars, was named in honor of Dr. Nan A. Rothschild. Dr. Rothschild is a professor emerita of Anthropology from Barnard College, currently on the faculty at Columbia University. She has directed/co-directed several seminal New York City archaeological excavations, including the Stadt Huys excavation, now 85 Broad Street, which was the first major historical archaeological excavation in New York City.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission worked in partnership with the Museum of the City of New York to create a systematic database with images for 14 of the city’s archaeological collections. The Commission created nyc.gov/archaeology to provide unprecedented public access to these collections. The site includes image exhibits of the collection’s highlights, overviews of archaeological sites, in-depth reports, quizzes for varying skill levels, curricula for teachers, and advanced search capabilities.
Digitization of archaeological documents and storage of a portion of the collection was made possible through the support of Iron Mountain Incorporated to the Fund for the City of New York. Based in Boston, Iron Mountain is the global leader in storage and information management services.
“The Nan A Rothschild Research Center has over a million artifacts from archaeological projects conducted all over the city and includes everything from a point a hunter used 8,000 years ago in College Point, Queens to a 19th century ceramic jar made in Lower Manhattan,” said Meenakshi Srinivasan, the Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. “New York City is the first municipality to systematically collect, catalog, curate and make accessible the City’s archaeological resources. The everyday objects in the collection reveal what life was like for people who were not documented in the historic record. Now researchers may come and study these artifacts at the repository and anyone anywhere may access them through our new website, nyc.gov/archaeology.”
“The New York Archaeological Repository is critically important to New Yorkers and those who value New York as it contains the city’s material past, although often in fragments,” said Dr. Nan Rothschild, Professor Emerita, Barnard College. “Archaeologists, historians and educators will continue to make use of these objects to tell and re-tell stories of how past New Yorkers dwelled and changed as urban life evolved.”
"We are proud to partner with LPC in the creation of the archeological repository at 114 West 47th Street," said Helena Durst, The Chief Administrative Officer at The Durst Organization. "This project marries two of the passions of our family: the preservation of our City's heritage and history and our contribution to the built environment. My cousin, Nan Rothschild Cooper has made her life's work the archaeology of New York and we are thrilled she is being honored with the naming of this center. My grandfather, Seymour Durst, while a developer by trade, was a passionate collector and archiver of New York history and ephemera and he assembled this lot and oversaw the construction of this building. He would be very pleased that this center is opening here."
“Our Living Legacy Initiative is our philanthropic mission to help preserve cultural heritage,” said Ty Ondatje, Senior Vice President for Corporate Responsibility and Chief Diversity Officer at Iron Mountain Incorporated. “Our support of this project will help connect New Yorkers of today with the city’s past – sharing their heritage and unwritten histories – and then providing access to the experiences of the archaeologists working to uncover and document these artifacts and stories. This partnership is especially meaningful to us as our roots are in NY, dating to our founding in 1951 and we’re proud to help to help preserve and make accessible NYC’s history.”
Mary McCormick, President of the Fund for the City of New York said, “We are delighted to have facilitated the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission’s efforts to make the city’s extraordinary archaeological collections accessible to scholars and the public.”
“The Nan A. Rothschild Research Center will quickly prove to be a true game changer in terms of how everyone from budding archaeological enthusiasts to the world’s most renowned scholars interacts with New York City’s incredible archaeological collections,” said Whitney Donhauser, Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum of the City of New York. “We at the Museum of the City of New York applaud the Landmark Preservation Commission’s work to make archives and collections accessible to all.”
ABOUT LPC: The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the mayoral agency responsible for protecting and preserving New York City’s architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites. Since its creation in 1965, LPC has granted landmark status to more than 36,000 buildings and sites, including 1,364 individual landmarks, 117 interior landmarks, 10 scenic landmarks, and 139 historic districts and extensions in all five boroughs. Under the City’s landmarks law, considered among the most powerful in the nation, the Commission must be comprised of at least three architects, a historian, a realtor, a planner or landscape architect, as well as a representative of each borough.
ABOUT THE DURST ORGANIZATION: The Durst Organization founded in 1915 by Joseph Durst, is the owner, manager, and builder of 13 million square feet of premiere Manhattan office towers and 1,950 residential units with 2,400 under construction. The Durst Organization is recognized as a world leader in the development of high-performance and environmentally advanced commercial and residential buildings
ABOUT IRON MOUNTAIN: Iron Mountain Incorporated (NYSE: IRM) is the global leader for storage and information management services. Trusted by more than 220,000 organizations around the world, Iron Mountain’s network of more than 85 million square feet of real estate includes more than 1,400 facilities in 45 countries dedicated to protecting and preserving what matters most for its customers. Iron Mountain’s solutions portfolio includes records management, data management, document management, data centers, art storage and logistics, and secure shredding, helping organizations to lower storage costs, comply with regulations, recover from disaster, and better use their information. Founded in 1951, Iron Mountain stores and protects billions of information assets, including critical business documents, electronic information, medical data and cultural and historical artifacts. Visit www.ironmountain.com for more information.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK : Founded in 1923 as a private, nonprofit corporation, the Museum of the City of New York celebrates and interprets the city, educating the public about its distinctive character, especially its heritage of diversity, opportunity, and perpetual transformation. The Museum connects the past, present, and future of New York City, and serves the people of the city as well as visitors from around the world through exhibitions, school and public programs, publications, and collections. To connect with the Museum on social media, follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @MuseumofCityNY and visit our Facebook page at Facebook.com/MuseumofCityNY. For more information please visit www.mcny.org.
ABOUT THE FUND FOR THE CITY OF NEW YORK: The Fund for the City of New York was established by the Ford Foundation in 1968 with the mandate to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. For over three decades, in partnership with government agencies, nonprofit institutions and foundations, the Fund has developed and helped to implement innovations in policy, programs, practices and technology in order to advance the functioning of government and nonprofit organizations in New York City and beyond.
Contact: Damaris Olivo/ 212-669-7938