Volume 77 / Number 39 - Feb. 27 - March 04, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Villager photo by Sharon Woolums

Bones of contention are revealed in exclusive photo

When human remains were unearthed during the Washington Square Park renovation a few weeks ago, local park activist Sharon Woolums was quickly on the scene to monitor the situation. Worried, however, construction workers would try to confiscate her camera if they saw her taking photos, she hid behind a park building for more than an hour before managing to snap the photo above. The image shows a pair of ancient femurs in a test trench just east of the park’s restroom building. Although the renovation doesn’t generally involve deep digging, the Parks Department is excavating the test trenches in spots where it plans to go a few feet farther belowground to install new utility pipes and lines. If intact burial sites are found, the plans will be modified to go around them. The above bones were found in a location where Parks says some remains had already been dug up and disturbed during past renovations and were found mixed with debris like nails. The remains of thousands of people, mainly poor individuals, lie buried beneath Washington Square Park, which was formerly a potter’s field. Woolums also reports that renovation opponents, including Reverend Donna Schaper of Judson Church, are planning “something major” regarding the park project, but said she couldn’t reveal details before press time.

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