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Landmarks Commission: No Jurisdiction to Mandate Historic Site Survey at 50 Bowery

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We have been following developments at 50 Bowery, where preservationists hope a demolition/construction project will be halted long enough to investigate a potentially major historical discovery.  We learned a bit more information yesterday afternoon regarding the city’s stance on the issue.

Inside 50 Bowery; a local preservationist snapped photos showing what he believes is evidence of the Bull's Head Tavern. Photo by Adam Woodward.
Inside 50 Bowery; a local preservationist snapped photos showing what he believes is evidence of the Bull’s Head Tavern. Photo by Adam Woodward.

As reported on Sunday, Adam Woodward went down to the cellar of the building and shot photos of what appears to be Revolutionary War-era construction. Historians have always believed the Bull’s Head Tavern existed on the site, but they were never sure whether remnants still remained. The current building is being torn down to make way for a 20 story hotel.

Lisi de Bourbon, spokesperson for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, tells us they are aware of the situation. However, she added, “we have no jurisdiction over the site and cannot require the owner to conduct archaeology.”  De Bourbon said, “we have spoken with the owner, and shared a list of accredited archaeologists who could potentially document what’s there.”

Local elected officials are beginning to look at potential options at 50 Bowery, and have reached out to the property owner, Alex Chu, whose family controls East Bank. We’ll let you know when we learn more about those efforts.


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  1. I am puzzled by the fact that landmarks has no jurisdiction over a situation like this.
    There must be a city, state or federal agency which does.

    Looks like its up to mr. chu to do the right thing and grant access to the appropriate historians and archaeologists if for nothing more than to at least document what’s there.

    The artifacts that very likely are buried on that lot could be a great draw to the area if recovered and exhibited.

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