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Northeast Historical Archaeology

Authors

Joan H. Geismar

Abstract

Land reclamation in port cities is a worldwide phenomenon that clearly represents economic considerations and, often, intensifying urbanization. Analysis of the fill matrix of two New York City sites suggests that the imposition of municipal controls may be one facet of the urbanizing process documented in the archaeological record. Differences between the fill from the 175 Water Street site, an East River block filled in the 18th century, and Site 1 of the Washington Street Urban Renewal Area adjacent to the Hudson River, an early 19th-century fill site, are best explained by the introduction of city ordinances to regulate land reclamation activities. The historical record, which documents a growing concern with mounting health problems, provides a rationale for these controls.

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