Modified: April 1, 2019 10:14am
The Erie County Public Works Department and their partners today announced that
A preliminary engineering ground study of potential sites for the new or expanded convention center project has determined the subsurface composition, geographic topography, metamorphic value and rough analysis of potential sites will be suspended indefinitely after the county’s engineering crews investigating subsurface anomalies near Mohawk and Huron Streets have identified building foundations laid in the late 1700’s, pre-dating the burning of Buffalo by the British in 1813.
Following the discovery of the foundations and the early-nineteenth century artifacts within them, crews ordered a stoppage to preserve the locations intact while the Erie County Office of Archaeology provided on-site guidance to categorize and classify the finds. The burned foundations of numerous houses, offices, liveries, saloons and houses of ill repute have been identified under existing city streets and businesses, still there after two centuries with some contents intact and surprisingly unbroken.
“A tremendous part of our region’s history is coming to light today. People lived, worked, and celebrated right in the area where we are building for the future and envisioning a new Buffalo. Relics they left behind remain there, as do the foundations of the homes and businesses where they lived and worked. I am amazed at the detail of items that have been found to date, and look forward to more. Luckily we were able to find these relics before they were permanently lost to history,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “Fortuitously, we are able to track and catalog these exciting finds. Our little known Department of Public works’ Office of Archaeology, led by Dr. Henry W. Jones, Jr., was ready to go when called into action and is on the job now. Organizing these finds will be a lot of work, but he’s used to digging for older stuff than this and is up to the task. Luckily, the job site is downtown and easy to find. Suddenly, everything old is new again.”
As preliminary work revealed the historic nature of the downtown site, Public Works crews performing study work immediately halted their efforts to leave the area intact. “People were surprised to see what was down there, but this is an old city with a lot of history, and the video we got during the early excavation shows just how fun this was,” said Public Works Commissioner Bill Geary. “You know, I really thought we could have taken the British back then but it ended up being us that got burned, literally. The foundations all have scorch marks and there are lots of household wares, pottery, and stuff like that down there. Calling in Dr. Jones and the Archaeology crew was the logical thing to do.”
Jones is retired professor emeritus in Archaeology from SUNY Binghamton, where he received the prestigious Dr. Rene Belloq Award in 1982 and the Mola Ram Humanitarian of the Year Award in 1990. He is fluent in several world languages, is a World War II veteran who fought fascism around the world, and along with his lesser-known son is adept at evading angry locals. Jones loves chicken wings and stays active in archaeologically-related pursuits, which he manages alongside his county charter-related duties, including research on not only vanished civilizations and cultures but also extinct animals that once roamed the area that is now western New York, such as well-known dinosaurs and the sabre-toothed tiger.
For more information:
On the Erie County Department of Public works, visit http://www2.erie.gov/dpw/
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