It seems to be the month of time capsule openings here in New York City, with a 1949 time capsule that was just opened this morning on Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn. Next week on October 8th, the New York Historical Society will open a bronze one from a century ago deposited by the Lower Wall Street Business Men’s Association. In fact, it’s the oldest, unopened time capsule because it was temporarily lost for a few decades.
The story begins at Fraunces Tavern on May 23, 1914, when a group of men in Revolutionary war getup marched from the historic site to 91 Wall Street, unveiling a plaque marking the location of the Merchants’ Coffee House, often cited as the birthplace of the American Revolution. It had burned down 110 years earlier. Former Columbia University president Seth Low sealed a bronze time chest with a silver hammer, leaving its contents to be discovered in 1974. It was entrusted to the president of the New York Historical Society until the future date.
As the Historical Society writes today, “As a result of being uncatalogued and, for a time, consigned to offsite art storage in Chelsea, the chest was forgotten and thus missed its date with destiny. In fact, it overslept by more than quarter of a century. Not until the late 1990s, when curators were cataloguing artifacts in preparation for display in the new Luce Center, was it rediscovered.”
The Historical Society has chosen October 8th, as a way to mark the 400th anniversary of the Dutch colonization of the New World. On October 11th, 1614 the first official reference to “New Netherland” was made via charter to the New Netherland Company.
After the capsule is opened on the 8th, it will be resealed according to instructions, returned to the New York Historical Society and reopened in 2074. To add to the fun, a new time capsule will be deposited at the opening ceremony by The Student Historians in the New-York York Historical Society’s high school internship program. The 2014 time capsule will be opened in 2114.
Stay tuned for our photos from the time capsule opening ceremony. Get in touch with the author @untappedmich.