Ground Zero

Treasure at site of 9/11 tragedy

Ground Zero 
Photo Lucas Jackson

By Brian Handwerk - National Geographic

Archaeologists explore the newfound remains of an 18th-century ship's rear, or stern, at ground zero (map) in New York City last summer. With the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks approaching, researchers found the ship's bow, or front, last month.

The unexpected piece of New York history turned up in the future parking garage of the new World Trade Center, which will eventually feature five new skyscrapers and the U.S. National September 11 Memorial & Museum. 

Centuries ago, though-when Lower Manhattan's western shore was farther in-the site was an anchorage in the Hudson River.

"Right now we're standing by the theory that [the ship is] a Hudson River sloop, a merchant vessel," said archaeologist Elizabeth Meade of AKRF, an engineering firm contracted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The World Trade Center ship "would have traveled up and down the river bringing cargo and people from the city to areas up north and might have gone as far south as the Caribbean."

Others have also suggested that the ship-which was likely deliberately sunk-may have done duty as a British troop carrier during the Revolutionary War.