A 160-Year-Old Coffin Was Found Beneath New York In 2011. Now The Body Has Finally Been Identified

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Image: Joe Mullin via New York Post

It’s October 4, 2011 – a routine Tuesday for some construction workers clearing a vacant lot in the Elmhurst district of Queens, New York. Then, suddenly, the back-hoe operator hits something solid. It sounds like iron – probably a pipe. But as the driver raises the arm of his machine, this humdrum Tuesday is transformed into a morbidly memorable day.

Image: Joan Blaeu

Way back when, the Queens neighborhood of Elmhurst was originally a village called Middenburgh that had been established by Dutch settlers in 1652. Middenburgh was a suburb of New Amsterdam, as the settlement was then called. But then the British came along in 1664 and renamed the Middenburgh district New Town, which in time became Newtown.

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Image: Leslie Seaton

One contribution that Newtown made to America was an apple – the Newtown Pippin. The fruit is said to have grown from a random seedling sometime around 1700 on land owned by an Englishman called Gershom Moore. And in its day the apple was highly popular – although it has since become overshadowed by modern varieties.

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