Preservation Issues

The Conservancy Helps Preserve a Piece of New York City’s Dutch History

-Glen Umberger, the Conservancy’s Manager of Special Projects and architectural historian

April, 2017

Glen Umberger, the Conservancy’s Manager of Special Projects and architectural historian was a featured speaker at the Holland Society of New York’s 131st Annual Meeting and Dinner on April 7th at the Cornell Club in Manhattan. Umberger discussed a recently discovered historic bronze tablet, commemorating Dutch explorer, Adrian Block’s ships, the “Tyger” which burned in New York harbor in the autumn of 1613 and the “Restless” which he built in the spring of 1614 to replace the one that was lost. The tablet, which had been installed in September 1890 at the former Aldrich Court building located at 41-45 Broadway (Youngs & Cable, 1886, demolished 1982) to mark the spot where Block spent the winter with his crew living in wooden huts: it was the first habitation of Europeans on the island of Manhattan. The tablet was part of a set of commemorative tablets commissioned by the Holland Society that, according to the New York Times “mark[ed] out the old landmarks and sites of buildings long swept away connected with the early history of New-York City.” Today, only three tablets from the set are known to exist.

Mr. Umberger’s presentation focused not only on the remarkable fact that the tablet survives when its former “home” was demolished 35 years ago, but that it is part of a larger historic narrative of New York’s diverse history that is best told through preserving the city’s rich architectural heritage. Plans are currently underway for the tablet to be restored and reinstalled at the 45 Broadway Atrium building (which replaced Aldrich Court in 1983) in almost the exact location where it had been for 92 years before its removal.