[Updated with more photos and a video below] The World Trade Center site has been synonymous with excavation for the past eight+ years, but it was only recently that a ship from the late 1700s was found. Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman told us that it was found during work for the Vehicle Security Center. And City Room reports:
By Wednesday, the outlines made it plain: a 30-foot length of a wood-hulled vessel had been discovered about 20 to 30 feet below street level on the World Trade Center site, the first such large-scale archaeological find along the Manhattan waterfront since 1982, when an 18th-century cargo ship came to light at 175 Water Street.
The area under excavation, between Liberty and Cedar Streets, had not been dug out for the original trade center. The vessel, presumably dating from the mid- to late 1700s, was evidently undisturbed more than 200 years.
The ship had been preserved by the ground water and sediment, so now, with it exposed to the air, it's starting to deteriorate. Archaeologists have flocked to the site to examine the hull. Molly McDonald, of AKRF, told the AP, "We noticed curved timbers that a back hoe brought up. We quickly found the rib of a vessel and continued to clear it away and expose the hull over the last two days.... We're going to send timber samples to a laboratory to do dendrochronology that will help us to get a sense of when the boat was constructed."
As for why the boat was buried: Another AKRF archaeologist, A. Michael Pappalardo, and NY State Historic Preservation chief regional archaeologist Doug Mackey told City Room that the "sawed-off beams seemed to indicate that the hull had deliberately been truncated, most likely to be used as landfill material." City Room also has a slideshow of the unearthed ship.
Update: Some more photographs, plus WCBS 2 asked some people what they thought and folks were EXCITED: "It's amazing. I don't know what else could be under there! There must be other stuff!"