|Title||Report: Archaeological Assessment, Sybil's Cave, Frank Sinatra Dr., City of Hoboken, Hudson County, N.J. May 2012. Richard Grubb & Associates, Inc..|
|Collection||Hoboken Historical Museum Archives|
|Scope & Content||
Archaeological Assessment, Sybil's Cave, Frank Sinatra Drive, City of Hoboken, Hudson County, New Jersey. May 2012. Richard Grubb & Associates, Inc., Cultural Resource Consultants.
This is a contination of archive record 2013.008.0004 with text in notes from page 3-34 to the end (this is for online catalog reading purposes - limitation of note field.)
See the primary record for full description.
Archives 2013.008.0004.01 being a continuation of text from page 3-34 to the end.
the vicinity of the project site (Marshall 1981). A survey conducted in support of planning for New Jersey Transit's ferry operations identified Castle Point as the location of an aboriginal settlement (Hobokan, or Hobokan-hackinge), and indicated that the bluffs along the waterfront on the point were sensitive for the presence of prehistoric resources, although the area had been much altered in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Hunter Research 1992). Work in support of a Waterfront Development Permit Application at the Maxwell House site, north of the project site, led to the identification of a variety of potential resources on that site (Cook and Modica 2003). Archaeological monitoring of demolition and construction on the site recorded a variety of waterfront and railroad-related resources (Cook 2006). Reports for several Waterfront Development Permit projects are present in the HPO files (Rothe Partnership 1988; Potomac-Hudson Environmental 2007), but it does not appear that these projects considered archaeological resources.
Sewer projects have also resulted in a substantial body of work in the vicinity of the project site. Early survey work led Herbert Kraft (1979:10) to observe that the Palisades area of the state was virtually devoid of known prehistoric sites. A Phase IB sewer survey did not encounter archaeological resources in the vicinity of the project site (Rutsch and Leo 1979). A Phase IA survey for a combined sewer outfall project on the Hoboken waterfront (Pennington 1996) identified shoreline areas along Castle Point as having potential to contain prehistoric resources. Subsequent monitoring of construction at the H3 and H4 sewer outfalls, south of the project site, determined that the area had been subject to considerable filling, reworking, and disturbance as a result of nineteenth and twentieth century development (Cook 2004).
Two telecommunications projects have been conducted in the vicinity of the project site (Zerbe et al. 2002; Carmelich et al. 2003). One of these project was on the property of Stevens Institute of Technology (Carmelich et al. 2003), but as neither project addressed archaeological resources, it does not add to our understanding of the project site.
National/State Register of Historic Places
According to the records at the HPO, no archaeological properties listed on or determined eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NR) lie in, or within one-half mile of, the project site. In 2009, the Hoboken Historical Museum filed a Preliminary Application for Certification of Eligibility with the HPO (Foster 2009). Consequently, Sybil's Cave was determined eligible for listing on the National and State Registers of Historic Places under Criterion A (COE: 5/13/2009; Saunders 2009). Sybil's Cave falls also within the limits of the Stevens Historic District (SHPO Opinion: 2/28/91).
SECTION 4.0 RESULTS
4.1 Assessment of Archaeological Sensitivity
The waterfront between the Castle Point bluff and the Hudson River has been worked and reworked many times over the past two centuries. These reshaping activities began with the initial carving of Sybil's Cave out of the rough bluff face in the 1830's and have continued as recently as the 2007 date of the excavations that re-exposed the cave and the landscaping effort that created the pocket park that now stands to its fore. Over the course of this period, buildings, roadways, walkways, piers and railroad beds have been added to the landscape and then subsequently removed from it. The natural topography of the river bank has been reshaped through grading in some places and raised by the application of fill in others. Over time the deposition of fill has also shifted the river margin considerably further to the east of its pre-modification location. Clearly, each successive reinterpretation of the landscape has eliminated some evidence of past human use, but it remains unclear to what extent the archaeological record has been wiped clean. Significant archaeological data can survive even in the most densely built up and manipulated of urban environments.
Clearly, there is no potential for prehistoric archaeological resources to survive within the cave, as it is not a natural feature and dates no earlier than the Stevens family ownership of the property on which it was located. The area surrounding the cave lies within the historic floodplain of the Hudson River. Prior to the degradation of the riverfront ecosystem during the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this was a rich environment offering direct access to river and its copious supply of fish and nearly limitless beds of oysters. In addition to the brackish waters of the Hudson River, the area also offered a fresh water source in the form of the mineral spring which would have flowed from the rock at the current location of Sybil's Cave. Prior to the settlement of the surrounding lands by persons of European decent, the riverbank below the Castle Point bluff would have offered an excellent location for food procurement and processing camps. It can be anticipated to have been exploited extensively by indigenous aboriginal peoples.
Due to the extent to which historic alteration of the landscape can be expected to have altered the ground surface in the vicinity of the cave, it is unlikely that extensive prehistoric archaeological resources survive intact. This does not preclude the possibility that isolated pockets of undisturbed soils containing evidence of prehistoric utilization survive in deeply buried contexts or along the margins of the most historically manipulated areas outside of Sybil's Cave.
During the most recent phase of ground disturbances, which were monitored by personnel from RGA, other than the cave, little archaeological evidence relating to the historic use of the property as a recreational facility was encountered. The most significant evidence that was unearthed was several fragments of the original proscenium entrance arch to the cave. However, little else was identified that could be directly tied to this period of the cave's past. Subsequent to the clearing of the cave's interior, the area fronting the cave has once again been reworked and turned into a landscaped park. The grading of the area, construction of park pathways, curbing and other infrastructure and the planting of trees and other vegetation, was not monitored by archaeologists. It is unclear to what extent these activities may have disturbed archaeological remains related to earlier periods of use.
Although no evidence of the survival of historic archaeological resources, such as foundation remains or evidence of historic landscape features, was observed during the brief window that the archaeological monitoring of the re-excavation of the cave offered, the possibility still exists that such resources survive in the forecourt of the cave beneath the depth of the most recent disturbance. Any surviving remains historically associated with the original restaurant / refreshment building or with the later buildings and improvements associated with Fred Eckstein's period of proprietorship or with the final episode of the use of the site as a dockworkers' tavern and boarding house could possess archaeological significance depending on their type, extent, and integrity. Clearly, the most significant archaeological resource identified during these investigations is Sybil's Cave. The cave has been evaluated as being a New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places eligible resource associated with recreational development and tourism in the early nineteenth century. In addition to its basic form, the cave also shows evidence of the techniques employed in its original construction, and displays graffiti carved into its walls.
4.2 Archaeological Reconnaissance
Sybil's Cave consists of an artificial grotto excavated into the hillside located on the west side of Frank Sinatra Drive in Hoboken, Hudson County, New Jersey (see Figures 1.1 and 1.2; Plate 4.1). The adjacent park area has been graded and planted with shrubs, and is surrounded by a decorative fence (Plate 4.2). A decorative entrance, similar in scale and style to the historical entrance to the cave, has been built in the park (Plate 4.3). The area on the hillside above and around the cave consists of exposed bedrock. Several retaining walls above the cave entrance buttress the grounds of the Stevens Institute of Technology campus (see Plate 4.1; Plate 4.4).
Overall view of Sybil's Cave, looking northwest. Photo view: Northwest
Photographer: Lauren J. Cook Date: March 12, 2010
Sybil's Cave, looking north. Photo view: North
Photographer: Lauren J. Cook Date: March 12, 2010
Sybil's Cave entrance, looking northwest. Photo view: Northwest
Photographer: Lauren J. Cook Date: March 12, 2010
Wall above Sybil's Cave, looking northwest. Photo view: Northwest Photographer: Lauren J. Cook Date: March 12, 2010
A field visit to the cave was conducted on March 12, 2010. The entrance to the cave is 8.83 feet wide at the floor and 5.5 feet high. Traces of brickwork, probably associated with the entrance arch, were noted at the eastern end of the entrance. The cave measures approximately 20 feet by 17 feet (Figure 4.1). The ceiling arches to a height of 4.6-5.6 feet. Four columns are present near the center of the cave. These appear to be a mix of bedrock that was not excavated when the cave was built, and rough masonry that was cemented or mortared in place (Figure 4.2). Indistinct graffiti, probably left by cave visitors, is present on the southwest column. There is a carved reservoir, or cistern, approximately 2.4 x 2.6 feet, in the floor between the four columns. This reservoir was reportedly designed to collect groundwater that filters into the cave through cracks in the bedrock, and appears to be permanently filled with water. An arch has been carved into the bedrock above and between the two columns closest to the entrance (Plate 4.5). This decorative detail echoes the entrance arch that formerly stood outside the cave's entrance. Tool marks are visible there and in other locations within the cave (Plate 4.6) The floor of the interior of the cave, to the left and right of the entrance, has up to several feet of soil and rocks piled up (Plates 4.7 and 4.8). This material appears to have entered the cave when the entrance was filled.
A geophysical report indicated that the cave would need structural stabilization in order to be opened to the public. The possibility exists that there is ongoing spalling of the cave's ceiling. Further engineering studies were recommended (Cheema and Pehrman 2011). An analysis of the water within the cistern revealed the presence of coliform bacteria in amounts that render it unsafe for drinking, but there is no indication that contact with it constitutes a health risk (Miller 2011; Cheema and Pehrman 2011).
Measured Sketch of the Interior of Sybil's Cave (Hoboken Building & Real Estate Collection, Hoboken Historical Museum)
Interior of Sybil's Cave, looking northwest (Photo: G. Paul Burnett, New York Times, June 27, 2007).
Carved arch within Cave, looking northwest. Photo view: Northwest
Photographer: Lauren J. Cook Date: March 10, 2010
Sybil's Cave looking southwest from cistern. Photo view: Southwest
Photographer: Lauren J. Cook Date: March 12, 2010
Fill within Cave, looking west from entrance. Photo view: West
Photographer: Lauren J. Cook Date: March 12, 2010
Fill within Cave, looking north from entrance. Photo view: North
Photographer: Lauren J. Cook Date: March 12, 2010
SECTION 5.0 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
A preliminary determination of the likelihood that significant cultural resources occur within any given area is based upon a review of environmental and historical data and a close visual inspection of the project site. In light of available information it is deemed likely that areas both within the footprint of the cave and surrounding are sensitive for the presence of significant archaeological resources. The area surrounding area the cave has been assessed to possess a low to moderate sensitivity with regard to its likelihood to contain significant prehistoric archaeological resources (Figure 5.1). Archaeological investigation of the area is far more likely to yield important information about the recreational use of the cave as a landscape folly and mineral spring in the years between circa 1835 and circa 1885 and the later utilization of the site as a beer garden, dockworkers' tavern and boarding house between circa 1885 and circa 1930. Accordingly, further archaeological work is recommended to be conducted in conjunction with the present project, as detailed below.
A detailed map of Sybil's Cave should be prepared prior to any additional work. This would be difficult using ordinary cartographic techniques. However, 3D Laser Scanning Technology, which is capable of rapidly processing millions of data points, should provide a cost-effective and accurate means of mapping the complex interior of the cave, and the Hoboken Historical Museum may wish to investigate its use for that purpose. Data gathered from such a survey could be used to generate a 3-dimensional model of the cave, using 3-D printers that would prove useful in interpreting the site to museum visitors. Graffiti is evident in places on the walls of the cave. Some of these may date to later periods in the history of the cave, but all of them should be photographically recorded and located to the fullest extent possible and located on plans of the cave.
There is potential for significant archaeological resources and deposits in the cistern in the center of the cave. The cistern (or reservoir) appears to be permanently filled with water. There is high potential for resources within the cistern dating from the entire period of the cave's use. Preservation of organic materials, such as bone and wood in such an environment, is expected to be excellent. The Hoboken Historical Museum has been very careful not to disturb any deposits that might exist at the bottom of the cistern. Dewatering and excavation of the cistern should not occur until the Hoboken Historical Museum has engaged the services of a qualified conservator to preserve any material that might be present.
Other deposits within the cave, except for those that may be present directly on the stone floor of the cave, do not appear to be archaeologically significant. Photographs from 1937 clearly show that there were no deposits of soil on the floor of the cave near the mouth at that time. This indicates
Sybil's Cave: Map of projected archaeological sensitivity.
that the deposits presently on the floor in that area, which may approach several feet in thickness, clearly postdate the 1930s, and thus should not, in themselves, be considered significant. It is possible, however, that these deposits may contain additional fragments of the entrance arch and other materials of potential interest. Removal of these deposits should entail examination of any sizeable fragments of serpentine for any evidence of carving or working, tool-marks, etc. These, and any bricks in the fill, should be saved, along with any other artifacts that are present (such as the bucket seen in Plate 4.7).
Removal of deposits within the cistern should be conducted by archaeological professionals in consultation with qualified archaeological conservators with experience in conservation of waterlogged items. Removal of deposits elsewhere within the cave should be monitored or supervised by a qualified archaeological professional.
Considerable information on the historic development of the zone between the cave and the Hudson River was gathered during the research phase of this project and has been utilized to produce mapping that shows areas within the zone that may possess historic archaeological sensitivity. The archaeological investigations conducted to date have not been sufficient to determine the degree to which these areas may have been impacted by previous episodes of ground disturbance, therefore, archaeological monitoring is recommended in the event that any future site improvement activities take place that could impact any archaeological deposits that may survive. Nineteenth and early twentieth century archaeological deposits within and immediately adjacent to the footprints of structures formerly associated with the recreational and restaurant/tavern use of the property (see Figure 5.1) would be of particular interest along with any construction data and floor plan information with regard to these no longer extant historic buildings and the original ornamental cave gateway arch.
Sybil's Cave is a unique historical and archaeological resource. In recognition of this, the cave has been determined by the New Jersey Historic Preservation Officer to be individually eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A. It may also have the potential to be a contributing resource to the National Register-eligible Stevens Historic District. It is recommended that Sybil's Cave be formally nominated to the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places under National Register Criteria A, C and D. Listing Sybil's Cave on the New Jersey and National Registers will provide the resource with broader recognition of its historic significance and an expanded measure of protection.
SECTION 6.0 REFERENCES
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APPENDIX A: QUALIFICATIONS OF KEY PERSONNEL
LAUREN J. COOK Registered Professional Archaeologist
517 South 27th Street Philadelphia, PA 19146 (215) 545-1655 Cell (508) 789-7533 cookrpa.com
Ph.D. Candidate Boston University Archaeology
M.A.Boston University Archaeological Studies 1990
Concentration, New World Historical Archaeology Specialization, Industrial Archaeology
B.A.Providence College Anthropology1980
Liberal Arts Honors Program
1999 Registered Professional Archaeologist
1990 Society of Professional Archaeologists (certified in Field Research, Historical
Archaeology, and Documents Research) 1992 OSHA-certified 40-hour Hazardous Waste Operations (HAZWOPER) course 1994 OSHA-certified 8-hour Site Supervisor's course 2010 OSHA-certified 8-hour Health and Safety Refresher Course 1999 Lead and Asbestos Safety Course 2004 American Red Cross CPR for the Pro Rescuer training 2004 American Red Cross First Aid training
Mr. Lauren Cook is a Registered Professional Archaeologist with more than 30 years of experience in archaeology and cultural resources management. He has specialized in the historical and industrial archaeology of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. In addition to being a Registered Professional Archaeologist, Mr. Cook exceeds the Secretary of Interior's standards for prehistoric archaeology, historical archaeology, and history. He has conducted or supervised archaeological or historical research in all six New England states, New York State and New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, and Arizona. He is the author or co-author of 11 professional publications, more than 100 cultural resources reports, and more than 30 presentations to professional audiences and community groups.
Richard Grubb & Associates, Inc. Cultural Resource Consultants
Damon Tvaryanas, Principal Senior Historian (36 CFR 61)
Years of Experience
With this firm: 2011-Present With other firms: 20
M.S. 1993 University of Pennsylvania Historic Preservation
B.A. 1991 New York University Fine Arts
OSHA 40-Hour Training 2000-Present
OSHA 8-Hour Confined Space Training
Professional Experience Summary:
Damon Tvaryanas is Principal Investigator, Principal Senior Historian on projects performed by RGA. Mr. Tvaryanas' technical and managerial responsibilities include project management, the direction of cultural resource investigations, including historical architectural surveys, preservation plans, historic structure reports, National Register of Historic Places nominations, Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record documentation, the development of historic interpretive signage, displays and publications, and the preparation of reports and proposals. Mr. Tvaryanas provides technical oversight to project staff to ensure that all cultural resources investigations are technically complete and comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, NEPA, Section 4(f), and cultural resource regulations.
Representative Project Experience:
Archaeological Overview and Assessment Study. Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Kent County, DE (Sponsor: USFWS) Undertook a detailed program of historical research targeted at developing a comprehensive land use history of the 16,000 acre Bombay Hook Federal Wildlife Refuge. Produced an inventory of identified historic architectural resources and identified potential archaeological resources within the refuge boundaries.
Pennington Park World War Memorial. Passaic County, NJ (Sponsor: FEMA) Directed primary and secondary source research and architectural evaluation and concluded diat the World War I monument met Criterion C as an architecturally and artistically significant example of a major World War I commemorative monument.
Historic Architectural Assessment. Brandvwine Substation Expansion. New Castle County, DE (Sponsor: Delmarva Power & Light Company) Directed a historic impact assessment in connection with the proposed expansion of an existing electrical substation within the boundaries of the National Register-listed Brandywine Village Historic District
Historic American Engineering Record Documentation (HAER) of County Route 571 Bridge over Main Branch of Toms River. Ocean County, NJ (Sponsor: Ocean County,
NJ) In accordance of HAER quality standards, documented existing conditions and setting of a bridge, spillway and dam within the Rova Farms National Register listed Historic District.
Proposed Champluvier Gathering Line. Tuscarora Township. Bradford County and Susquehanna County PA (Sponsor: Appalachia Midstream Services, LLC) Undertook historic research in connection with the suspected location of a burial plot along the alignment of a proposed natural gas gathering line in north-central Pennsylvania. Detailed historical research proved that the suspected burial plot had never been used for the interment of human remains.
Richard Grubb & Associates, Inc. Cultural Resource Consultants
Laura D. Cushman, Archaeologist
Years of Experience 19
BA 1991 Muhlenberg College Social Science
Archaeological Society of New Jersey
Laura D. Cushman has extensive experience in applying Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended, and other relevant state and municipal laws. Ms. Cushman has served as a project archaeologist on all phases of archaeological investigations on both prehistoric and historic sites in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Representative Project Experience:
Dead River Road Wireless Site. Somerset County, NJ (Sponsor: Verizon Wireless)
Project Archaeologist for an archaeological assessment of a proposed wireless telecommunications facility in Warren Township. Ms. Cushman concluded that the APE-Archaeology had a low sensitivity for prehistoric and historic cultural resources. She co-authored a report presenting the results of the assessment.
Camden Lanning Square Elementary School. Camden County, NJ (Sponsor: Schools Construction Corporation) Project Archaeologist for a cultural resources investigation of the Camden Lanning Square Elementary School in the City of Camden. Ms. Cushman conducted background research and a site visit for the initial assessment of the project site. The results of the assessment indicated a high sensitivity for pre-1860 historic cultural resources on the project site, and a Phase I survey was recommended. Ms. Cushman was the crew chief for the subsequent fieldwork, and drafted a report meeting the requirements of the HPO.
Evesham Township Board of Education Transportation Facility. Burlington County, NJ (Sponsor: Evesham Township Board of Education) Project Archaeologist for a proposed bus maintenance facility and associated parking lot in Evesham Township. Phase I and II archaeological investigations resulted in the identification and evaluation of a portion of prehistoric site 28-Bu-106. The project did not proceed to mitigation level as no significant prehistoric features were encountered. She co-authored a report presenting the results of the assessment.
Wager's Farmstead Site. Montgomery County, PA (Sponsor: Vesterra Corporation)
Project Archaeologist for Phase I through Phase III archaeological investigations at the Wager's Farmstead Site (36-Mg-307). The archaeological investigations resulted in the identification of numerous cultural features dating from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries. Ms. Cushman catalogued and performed a minimum vessel analysis on the material recovered, photographed artifacts, produced graphics, performed data entry, and co-authored a report presenting the results of the investigations.
APPENDIX B: ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Authors:Lauren J. Cook, M.A., R.P.A., Damon Tvaryanas, M.A., Laura D. Cushman
Title:Archaeological Assessment, Sybil's Cave, Frank Sinatra Drive, City of
Hoboken, Hudson County, New Jersey
RGA Database Title:Sybil's Cave
RGA Project No:2010-069
Municipality:City of Hoboken
U.S.G.S. Quad:Weehawken, NJ
Drainage Basin:Hudson River, New York Bay, Atlantic Ocean
Regulation:New Jersey Historic Trust Grant
Project Type:Recreational: Park
Project Sponsor:Hoboken Historical Museum & Cultural Center
Client:Hoboken Historical Museum & Cultural Center
Level of Survey:Archaeological Assessment
Cultural Resources:Sybil's Cave (COE: 5/13/2009); Areas of archaeological potential associated with Sybil's Cave
Cook, Lauren J.
Cushman, Laura D.
|Year Range from||2010.0|
|Year Range to||2012.0|
Frank Sinatra Drive
New Jersey Historic Trust
Black & Veatch
Richard Grubb & Associates, Inc.
Government & Politics