Thursday, May 26, 2005

Sagging Battery

Just found this on Songlines (mentioned a few weeks back) and thought I’d share:

As many as a thousand New Yorkers, victims of an elaborate practical joke, showed up on the corner of Spring and Bowery in August 1824, ready to take part in a project that would saw Manhattan off its bedrock so that the island could be reversed and the "sagging" Battery connected to the Bronx.

Of course, some half-assed research ensued:

The sawing off of Manhattan Island is an ancient New York City story that is largely unverified. It describes a practical joke allegedly perpetuated in 1824 by a retired ship carpenter named Lozier. According to the story, in the 1820s a rumor began circulating among city merchants that southern Manhattan Island was sinking near the Battery due to the weight of the urban district. It was believed that by cutting the island, towing it out, rotating it 180 degrees, and putting it back in place that Manhattan would be stabilized, and that the thin part of the island could be condemned. Surprisingly the main concern was not the futility of the idea but of Long Island being in the way. Lozier finally assembled a large workforce and logistical support. At a massive groundbreaking ceremony, Lozier did not show up but hid in Brooklyn and did not return for months.