Construction has begun on the site of the Fort...
The Campaign to Study Fort No. 2
(a.k.a. Fort Swartwout)
Before it is Lost to the Bulldozer
Under a lot of vacant land in The Bronx neighborhood of Spuyten Duyvil lie the remains of Revolutionary Fort No. 2 (called Fort Swartwout by the Patriots). Recently, the owner of the lot and a local developer have unveiled plans to build on the site. The Kingsbridge Historical Society is advocating for an archeological excavation to occur on the site before beginning construction. There are local archeologists that are ready to go and it will cost the owner nothing to do. We do not oppose the development of the land but rather seek to understand a piece of American history before it is lost to the bulldozer.
6/8/19 – NY1: Bronx Historians Push to Conduct Architectural Dig ahead of Land Development
Note: In this report the owner states that he will turn over any artifacts that are found to a local institution. However, a construction worker in a backhoe cannot do the work of an archeologist with a trowel and brush. Why not let an archeologist on the property?
6/9/19 – Riverdale Press: Historians hope to find Revolutionary War artifacts at Spuyten Duyvil site
Note: Finding artifacts would be great but even more consequential would be understanding how the fort was built. To do this, a proper archeological dig must occur.
5/30/19 – Historians Fight to Slow Development at Bronx Revolutionary War Site
Note: We are not interesting in “fighting” or “slowing down” development. We are certainly not interested in stopping the development. We seek permission to let an archeological dig take place before construction begins to learn about a piece of American history before it is lost forever.
Historical Significance of Fort No. 2:
For a detailed history of the importance of the fort during the American Revolution read our article: Fort No. 2 in The Bronx.
How do we know it is there?
The existence of the fort on this lot is confirmed from local history sources including the work of previous historians. Additionally, the location is validated using a detailed British engineering diagram of the fort and georeferencing.
We were negotiating with the owner/developer for access to the property for an archeological dig but were unable to agree to their demands, which included:
- that anyone participating in the archeological dig would have to sign two legal agreements including a Confidentiality Agreement that would forbid the participants from ever writing about the excavation without the permission of the developer (this agreement had no sunset provision–meaning that for the rest of our lives we would not be able to say what we found without first asking the developer’s permission);
- Obtaining an insurance policy for $2 Million of liability coverage;
- Limiting the excavation to five holes of a depth of two feet;
- A ban on photography;
- A ban on recruiting the help of an archeologist; and
- Turning over any artifacts found on the site to the developer.
We are still hopeful that the owner and developer will change their mind and allow an archeological excavation without these excessive demands, which run contrary to the methodology and code of conduct of archeology.