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Centuries-old burial vaults found beneath New York street

Published 05/11/2015

A plywood wall surrounds the opening to an underground construction area (AP)
A plywood wall surrounds the opening to an underground construction area (AP)

Archaeologists believe two centuries-old burial vaults discovered beneath a New York City street this week were probably part of a Presbyterian church cemetery.

Principal investigator Alyssa Loorya says the roughly 15ft by 18ft crypts near Manhattan's Washington Square Park were found on Tuesday and were probably built in the late 18th or early 19th centuries.

Workers starting a years-long water main replacement project happened upon the tombs' brick roofs just three and a half feet beneath the street.

Archaeologists were on site because the nearby Greenwich Village park was a Potter's Field for yellow fever victims in the early 1800s.

Loorya says skeletons and skulls are visible in one of the vaults. She says more than a dozen stacked coffins are visible in the other.

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