“This archeological site provides a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the history of this forgotten piece of Governors Island,” said Professor Luc D’Hoe, who is leading the archeological team. “Over the past several months, we have uncovered the remains of an old church, factory, and gas station that stood at this location.”
The archeologists have learned that there once was a civilian hamlet located on Governors Island. The few inhabitants of the small village were forced to leave their homes in 1954. Since that time, the buildings from the village have been buried under a mound of sand until they were re-discovered earlier this year.
Visitors are invited to learn more about the history of the hamlet and the lives of those who lived there by touring the site and viewing an exhibition about the archeological dig. The exhibition is located adjacent to the dig, in a building formerly used by the US Coast Guard as a mess hall.
“The site itself and the exhibition tell the story of this forgotten village,” said Geert Hautekiet, who designed the dig’s exhibition that outlines the story of the hamlet. “This site allows members of the public to actually touch the history of Governors Island and learn more about this place that disappeared more than fifty years ago.”
Last year, the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation (GIPEC) began the first phase of demolishing decrepit, non-historic buildings on the Island’s southern half. Demolition included Liberty Village, a series of ten apartment buildings, which created eight acres of new open space. This area has become Picnic Point, an increasingly popular destination for Governors Island visitors.
Demolition also included PS 26 and the Bachelor’s Quarters, which were buildings located on the four acre site where the dig is located. During the demolition of these structures, archeologists discovered the remnants of the hamlet’s buildings.
“This latest effort literally to uncover the history of New York reminds us that there are many routes to the past and that our intellectual journeys need not always be to places that are remote from us either in time or in space,” said Kenneth T. Jackson, editor, The Encyclopedia of New York City. “I hope the archaeological dig will yield exciting results.”
“In 2009, for the first time, visitors to Governors Island could access more areas than ever before, including the entire two mile promenade and the wonderful new spot Picnic Point,” said GIPEC President Leslie Koch. “We are so pleased to open this new space to the public and that visitors can explore Governors Island in an entirely new way.”
Funding for the archeological dig and the accompanying exhibition is made possible by Flanders House.
As we celebrate the quadricentennial and the relationship between the Low Countries and the United States, we are particularly excited that a Flemish team is a part of this discovery,” said Nicolas Polet of Flanders House. “We are so pleased that this project allows New Yorkers to experience history and culture in new ways.”