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April 14, 2018

The Subversive Secrets of Battery Park

New York is a town full of secrets. Every storefront, apartment building and park has lived past lives you know nothing about. Your favorite supermarket might have served as the battleground during the Revolutionary War, or perhaps your go-to cafe was the site of a shady, backhanded brawl between Al Capone and his legions of mobsters. Battery Park has its own share of secrets. From the hidden swaths of bees to famous feminist icons, each secretive stop near the Wagner Battery Park is worth exposing:


Battery Park was a premiere shucking spot:

There was once over 200,000 acres of oyster reefs in the New York harbor. Oysters, mussels and clams were so plentiful, that in the 19th century, New York exported various shellfish all over the world. By the 1900’s, toxicity levels in the water led to extinction, and by 1906 the last oyster had vanished.


Now there are bees. Lots of them:

When the Dutch came to New York in the 1600’s, they brought honeybees with them. Luckily for these stingers, beekeeping was legalized in 2011, and the volunteer group Bee Village oversees 1,000 bees in Battery Park alone. Don’t worry – they live quite well in little houses at the neighborhood’s Urban Farm.


It also has archeological ruins:

In 2005 builders working on a new South–Whitehall Street station found remains of a 200-year old stone wall that was analyzed to be the oldest man-made structure in Manhattan. A deeper dig uncovered 250,000 individual artifacts and four additional walls.


And heroines who housed young female immigrants:

After the Civil War, the house at 7 State Street belonged to Irish author Charlotte Grace O’Brien, who opened her doors to young Irish immigrant women.  The Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary, gave shelter to more than 60,000 females, who then went onto find domestic employment in the months following.