LESPI’s Comments on ESCR Archaeological Mitigation Plan for Corlears Hook Park

June 19, 2023

Ms. Julie Freeman
Community Development – Entitlement & Disaster Recovery
NYC Office of Management & Budget
255 Greenwich Street, 8th Floor
New York, New York 10007

Via email: freemanj@omb.nyc.gov

Re: Consulting Parties’ Comments on Proposed Plan for Corlears Hook Park Archaeological Site

Dear Ms. Freeman:

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative (LESPI), in accordance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, and as a Consulting Party to the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR), has reviewed your letter dated May 31, 2023 regarding the proposed plan to mitigate adverse impacts to the Corlears Hook Park archaeological site, as well as the accompanying “East Side Coastal Resiliency Project Work Plan For Mitigation Of Adverse Effects To Corlears Hook Park Archaeological Site (Shpo Site No. 06101.023246), (“the Report”).

We fully support the Report’s recommendations for public outreach and education, including mounting a permanent exhibit of the archeological findings, including maps, photographs, and text, within the park. However, we would also like to see at least a few representative samples of the approximately 50,000 artifacts discovered publicly displayed. We recommend that such a display be mounted in the park’s recently renovated, historic comfort station building. This structure will be the last remaining of a series of related buildings in East River Park designed by Aymar Embury II. When Corlears Hook Park was reconfigured at the time of the East River Drive’s construction, it was linked to the new East River Park and the comfort station design underscored that link. At present the restrooms do not occupy the full building and there should be sufficient room for a small display.

If for some reason display space cannot be made available in the Corlears Hook comfort station building, samples of the smaller artifacts could be exhibited and interpreted in the East River Park’s new Track House, where there will presumably be ample space. An archeological exhibit would complement the interpretive displays of the park’s history and soon to be demolished historic structures that the Parks Dept. is currently planning for that building.

We understand that, due to the regrading of the site to allow barrier free access to the new pedestrian bridge over the FDR Drive, maintaining and displaying the foundation walls, cisterns and privies excavated during the archeological investigation may prove difficult. However, we recommend that the project team fully explores displaying the site’s subgrade features – at least the Report’s prioritized features – by installing transparent paving panels above them to allow visibility without obstructing the walkway and park playground. This type of display is very effectively employed at the Stadt Huys archeological site at 71 Pearl Street, where the foundation walls and cistern remain visible.

Finally, we fully support plans to develop a curriculum for K-12 of the city’s public schools. We especially like the idea of making actual artifacts available for teaching purposes.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or to discuss these issues further. Thank you.


Richard D. Moses

Cc: Deborah Wye, LESPI