We’re back with the video series “A City Full of History,” delving into the lesser known aspects of New York City history produced by Untapped Cities contributor Dan Thurber, who runs the YouTube channel Bookworm History. Most recently,we flew with the ‘Bremen’, the first airplane to fly across the Atlantic Ocean from East to West! This week we visit Inwood Hill Park and dig into the history of the Inwood Native American Caves and New York City’s weekend archaeologists!
Inwood Hill Park is a unique place on the island of Manhattan. While Central Park, Manhattan’s other sprawling woodland area, was designed and built from the ground up, the area that would become Inwood Hill Park was largely undeveloped. By the end of the nineteenth century only a few small farms and the occasional mansion called the northern tip of Manhattan home. Because it went mostly untouched the Washington Heights and Inwood areas were ideal for archaeological digging and in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s a dedicated group of amateur archaeologists answered the call.
The vast collection of pottery, tools, remains, shell pits, and more that the likes of Alexander Chenoweth, William Louis Calver, Reginald Pelham Bolton, and others discovered have lead us to a more thorough understanding of the lives of the Lenape, the Native American tribe that occupied Manhattan and the surrounding areas prior to and during Dutch and British colonization. These weekend diggers also left their marks on the landscape of Inwood, uncovering and excavating the Inwood Native American Caves.
Come along with us as we dig in to the fascinating history of the Inwood Caves and New York’s weekend archaeologists!