Century-old time capsule unsealed in New York

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — A century-old time capsule, filled by long-gone Wall Street businessmen celebrating New York as a pioneering commercial hub, was unsealed Wednesday.

Spectators at the New-York Historical Society gathered around the mysterious bronze box as workers wearing surgical gloves removed 26 screws keeping it sealed since 1914.

The crowd leaned in as the lid came off and historian Nick Yablon reached in for the items: a collection of documents, booklets and news reports depicting the turn-of-the-century businessmen's interests, from the tea, coffee and spice trade of the 17th century Dutch colony to contemporary baseball and bullfights.

"This is the thrill of recovering relics," said Yablon, a professor of American studies at the University of Iowa who's writing a book about time capsules.

The Lower Wall Street Business Men's Association that deposited the box with the historical society had asked that it be unsealed in 1974, marking the tricentennial of the Dutch West India Company that was among the first merchants in the New World.

But somehow, the time capsule was forgotten.

A curator discovered it in the society's warehouse in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood.

Another interesting item among the well-preserved papers and packages in the box was a facsimile of a 1774, pre-American Revolution letter written by the Dutch to English-settled Massachusetts, urging that the colonies unite.

Fast forward to May 23, 1914, the date of a telegram from then New York Gov. Martin Glynn wishing the New York of 1974 well.

A copy of the New York Times from the same day — stashed in the time capsule — recorded that a banker was found guilty of murder.

As it turned out, in 1974, the city was battling a fiscal crisis. And The Lower Wall Street Business Men's Association no longer existed.

But the future does.

And a new time capsule was created by high schools students from the society's internship program. They selected items to be unsealed in 2114.

Contributions include Purell hand sanitizer and an iconic, Greek-style New York paper coffee cup.

Julia Gatenio added a New York subway poster alerting riders to service changes, taped to a station pole.

"I stole it," confessed the giggling 17-year-old.