The Real Deal National

Why Revolutionary War history buffs want to slow down this project in the Bronx

Martin Zelnik wants to build homes at a Spuyten Duyvil lot, but local historians want to first conduct an archaeological dig
June 01, 2019 03:00PM

A depiction of George Washington entering New York after British armies left the city in 1783, and the intersection of West 230th Street and Fairfield Avenue (Credit: Getty Images, Google Maps)

A depiction of George Washington entering New York after British armies left the city in 1783, and the intersection of West 230th Street and Fairfield Avenue (Credit: Getty Images, Google Maps)

A developer trying to bring homes to vacant Bronx lot may have to deal with some history buffs first.

Martin Zelnik hopes to build on the lot he owns at West 230th Street and Fairfield Avenue in Spuyten Duyvil, but local historians are calling for an archaeological dig to happen first, as the site used to be a small Revolutionary War outpost, according to The City. George Washington established it in 1776 to help protect journeys into Manhattan.

The site has been examined before, with finds including some possible musket bullets and Hessian articles, and Zelnik says another dig is unlikely to uncover anything new. The lot has already housed new developments over the years, including a private tennis club, a community pool and other homes.

Zelnik offered the Kingsbridge Historical Society an opportunity to inspect and dig at the site from May 28 to May 31, but he would only permit archaeologists to dig five holes no bigger than two feet wide and two feet deep. The group would also need permission from Zelnik to keep, photograph or discuss any artifacts they find and get at least $2 million in liability insurance.

The society rejected the contract based largely on these restrictions.

“The purpose of archaeology is to uncover history,” Kingsbridge Historical Society president Nick Dembowski told The City. “But what they were proposing would cover up history.” [The City] – Eddie Small