More coffins found in Washington Square construction site

Remains found in a burial vault near Washington Square Park are believed to date back to the 19th century.

NYU students might be living in a real-life zombie thriller, as archeologists uncovered a second burial vault in Washington Square Park last Thursday. The discovery came after construction workers happened upon the first tomb during routine maintenance work the day prior.

Chrysalis Archaeology, a company hired by the city to work on the project, confirmed it was a vault identical to the first, containing 20 wooden coffins — including some with name and date plates. They are estimated to date back at least two centuries. The massive caskets are estimated to measure 15 feet wide, 27 feet long and 8 feet tall.

The NYC Department of Design and Construction commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora said in a statement to the Guardian that the city does not have plans to enter the chamber or disturb the bodies in any way.

“We don’t want to do any more disturbing than we need to,” he said.


Currently, anthropologists and archaeologists are evaluating the site, and Peña-Mora said they are working with the Landmarks Preservation Commission to protect the integrity of the site.

“The vault is being protected and passage by vehicles and pedestrians will be restricted,” Peña-Mora said last Wednesday.

Researchers are working with high-resolution cameras and telescope lenses to protect the site from any damage until sufficient information has been recorded. This vault, like the one discovered last Wednesday, dates back to the 19th century, when the Washington Square Park area served as a potter’s field and later a cemetery for victims of a yellow fever epidemic.

The DDC speculates the excitement may not be over yet, as this vault contains a wooden door facing west under the park, possibly guarding more secrets to be unearthed.

Email Lexi Faunce at [email protected]



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