Researchers said this week that a vessel unearthed four years ago at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan was made from wood cut around the year 1773 — two years before the start of the American Revolutionary War and three years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, writing in the July issue of the journal Tree Ring Research, said the white oak in the ship’s frame came from a Philadelphia-area forest and matched the material used to build the city’s Independence Hall.
We could see that at that time in Philadelphia, there were still a lot of old-growth forests, and [they were] being logged for shipbuilding and building Independence Hall.
Scientist Dario Martin-Benito of Columbia’s Tree Ring Lab
They said it sailed for 20 to 30 years before being weighed down and sunk to the bottom of the Hudson River as landfill to extend lower Manhattan. A 32-foot piece of the vessel was found in July 2010 about 20 feet under a street during construction of a parking garage for the new 1 World Trade Center tower, part of the complex rebuilt after the 9/11 terrorist attacks took down two towers. It was the second ship found buried in Lower Manhattan in the last four decades. Archaeologists found an 18th-century cargo ship on Water Street in 1982.
Philadelphia was one of the most important shipbuilding cities in the U.S. at the time. And they had plenty of wood so it made lots of sense that the wood could come from there.