It may come as a surprise that parts of New York City (ranging from a cherub sculpture to 11 blocks of land) are from the United Kingdom, but given the city’s colonial origins, cross-Atlantic trade, and World War II alliance, it begins to make more sense. This compilation include parts of New York City that have been moved from England to become part of the city’s land and architecture.
1. FDR Drive
During World War II, the city of Bristol in the southwest of England was leveled by the Luftwaffe. Bristol was a major port for American supply ships as well as an industrial center with the headquarters of Bristol Harbour and the Bristol Aeroplane Company. As we covered in 2014, revealed in the book Rubble: Unearthing the History of Demolition, the emptied supply ships would need ballast to balance the boats for their return journey to the United States. The rubble from the Bristol bombings – masonry and more from 85,000 destroyed buildings – was used as ballast. Back in New York City, it was dumped along the East River from 23rd Street to 34th Street, later to form a portion of the FDR Drive.
The FDR Drive (or East River Drive, as it was originally called) was initially built in 1934, extending from 125th Street down to 92nd Street. By 1942, a boulevard portion was built from 92nd to Battery Park, which was then converted into a highway starting in 1948 after World War II. The Bristol ballast becomes part of the FDR because, as described by NYC Roads, “much of the East River Drive was built on fill or on pile-supported relieving platforms.”