6. Oldest, Unopened Time Capsule Was Opened at the New-York Historical Society


In October 2014, the oldest, unopened time capsule in New York City from 1914 was opened at the New-York Historical Society. This bronze case was closed 100 years ago by the Lower Wall Street Business Men’s Association. On May 23, 1914, a group of men in Revolutionary War garb marched from Fraunces Tavern to 91 Wall Street where the former Merchants’ Coffee House used to be (often thought of as the birth place of the American Revolution).

Meeting the revolutionary men, former Columbia University president Seth Low sealed a bronze time chest with a silver hammer and entrusted it to the President of the Historical Society, set to be opened in 1974. But because of it was uncatalogued, the time capsule got lost. It wasn’t until the 1990s when curators were cataloging artifacts that they found it.

The Society had designated October 8th the anniversary of the Dutch colonization of the New York area, and so decided to open the time capsule on October 8, 2014 to mark the 400th anniversary of the settlement. The contents were fairly mundane, as they are in most time capsules, with everyday objects that show what life was like during that time. Included in the 1914 capsule were things like a copy of letter written at the Merchants’ Coffee House, telegram to the time capsule curator from the governor, a photograph of John Jay’s daughter, the May 15, 1914 edition of the New York Herald, and copies of the World Newspaper.

To see more about the big unveiling, check out our coverage of it and what was inside.