Dendroarchaeological analysis of the Terminal Warehouse in New York City reveals a history of long-distance timber transport during the Gilded Age

Leland, Caroline Wogan; Rao, Mukund Palat; Cook, Edward R.; Cook, Benjamin I.; Lapidus, Bryan; Staniforth, Andrew; Solomon, Alan; Holloway, Marguerite Y.; Rodriguez-Caton, Milagros

The Gilded Age of the late 19th century marked a period of rapid development and urbanization in New York City, U.S. To accommodate the high demand in wood products during that time, the timbers used for development of the city were increasingly sourced from locations distant from the northeastern United States. The Terminal Warehouse in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City was one of many large buildings erected during this period of city expansion, and is an important symbol of New York City commerce during the late 1800s. To determine the history and provenance of timbers used in the construction of the Terminal Warehouse, we used tree-ring analysis on longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) joists that were original to the building. The ring-width patterns on the joists crossdated well internally, suggesting a common origin of the sampled lumber. Further, our Terminal Warehouse tree-ring chronology (1512–1891 C.E.) correlated strongly with existing tree-ring chronologies from western/central Georgia and eastern Alabama, indicating that the timbers were extracted from this region of the southeastern United States. The provenancing and dating of the Terminal Warehouse timbers underscores the important role that southern pines played in the expansion and development of New York City during the Gilded Age.


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Also Published In

Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Tree Ring Lab
Published Here
September 3, 2021