Archeology in Independence National Historical Park
(Map: Library of Congress, American Memory webpage).
History Beneath Our Feet
The signs of change are everywhere. Cities constantly remake the landscape to serve the changing needs of their residents. Amidst this change little bits of the city's past are sometimes preserved in surprising places. New construction, which clears away much of the older landscape, sometimes seals beneath a modern building a portion of an older street or alleyway, a colonial backyard or the foundations of an earlier residence. Indeed, even in the modern city the ground under your feet may contain the preserved evidence of the areas earliest residents. Native Americans may have left a record of their activities under sidewalks and buildings.
The National Park Service is working in partnership with the National Constitution Center, the Gateway Visitor Center Corporation, Eastern National and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to redevelop the three blocks of what we currently call Independence Mall. This project involves construction of a museum, a visitor center, the educational Independence Park Institute and a new building to house the Liberty Bell.
Some aspects of this new construction will involve excavation in areas, which may contain preserved remains of Philadelphia's past. Where disturbance to areas believed to contain historic resources cannot be avoided, archeological excavations will precede construction. These excavations will document the threatened archeological sites and will recover artifacts and information which will help us better understand our nation's past.
Provision for these kinds of archeological projects is a part of federal law and is also an important part of the National Park Service's mission. By conducting such studies the National Park Service acts to preserve and protect the resources under its care.
Did You Know?
In the summer of 1793 “ten thousand people in the streets of Philadelphia … threatened to drag Washington out of his house, and effect a Revolution in Government” but an outbreak of yellow fever dispersed the mob and saved the national government. (J Adams to T Jefferson, June 30, 1813)