City Hall Park fountain at dusk. Tribeca, New York City.
A few years ago when I went back to school (as a result of the economy), the school I first went to was located in this particular neighborhood. During long breaks between classes, I would sit in this park and stare at the fountain . It was very calming. The fountain is located in City Hall Park that sits next to New York City’s City Hall which is the oldest City Hall that still houses original government functions.
What I did not realize is that City Hall Park sits on a burial ground that was largely ignored until this past decade. I found a great resource of information about this in the article ‘Under City Hall Park’:
"Every now and then, when a water main breaks in Lower Manhattan or when ground is broken for a new building, the bones of those who lived and died in colonial New York resurface, and today’s New Yorkers get a quiet brush with a past they had literally walked over. This happened, though few people seem to know about it, during the recent renovations of City Hall Park, when the remains of more than 70 people were uncovered. Most of these bones are thought to belong to the residents of New York’s first almshouse. Opened in 1736, the almshouse was a homeless shelter, jail, and workhouse rolled into one. Next to it was a fenced-in cemetery, so that the poor could be near the almshouse, isolated in death as they were in life. The cemetery opened in 1757, and was filled by 1785. In 1803, construction work began on a new City Hall, which was erected on the site of the demolished almshouse. A new courthouse (known as the Tweed Courthouse) was later built, just north of City Hall, and the area was transformed into the pristine seat of city government. Walkways were groomed, trees were planted. For a centerpiece, an elaborate fountain was built. The forsaken graves of the have-nots vanished." Source
Regarding the fountain: “In 1871 an ornate granite fountain designed by the noted park architect Jacob Wrey Mould was placed in front of City Hall. In 1920, the fountain was disassembled and shipped to Crotona Park in the Bronx. In 1939, the Post Office was demolished and the land returned to the city. Robert Moses started building in the park but was stopped by local protests. When Rudy Giuliani observed the unfinished status of the park upon taking his second oath of office as mayor, he decided to do something about it. City Hall Park was renovated in 1999 to return to its pre-Civil War splendor as part of his legacy. Jacob Wrey Mould Fountain was returned from the Bronx to the Park, with exact replicas of its centerpiece and lights reconstructed from Mould’s designs.” Source
There is now a marker that acknowledges the remains of some of the earliest New Yorker’s placed near City Hall in City Hall Park and last year there was a ceremony for the remains presided over by Christian, Jewish and Islamic clerics. City officials reburied the remains at that ceremony and unveiled the new marker. It was a quiet and solemn ceremony to acknowledge the early New Yorkers who were placed in this spot centuries ago.
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