When digging for new developments in Manhattan there's always the chance of finding artifacts that offer a window into a neighborhood's past. In Yorkville, a recent discovery is shining a light on that area's roots as a haven for German immigrants and a major industry. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
At the future site of a new apartment building, the past brought archaeologists and historians to 92nd Street and 3rd Avenue.
Remnants of the Ruppert Brewery, founded in 1867 across a few of Yorkville's blocks, were uncovered over the past few days. This site dated to around 1885.
The structure was knocked down Tuesday, but many people were able to snap pictures before that happened.
"This was a remnant of an industry that was a very big industry in New York, and in this area completely. And it was just, it was an artifact of history, and it's gone," said Joan Geismar, an archaeologist.
What exactly the building was is a bit of mystery. Experts say it was possibly a place where bottles were made. This area is well-known as a home to German immigrants. The mere sight of the building evokes instant nostalgia.
"In my day they still ran around in lederhosen and dirndles and 30's through the 60's was its heyday," said Kathryn Jolowicz from the Yorkville/Kleindeutschland Historical Society.
A complex of breweries stood on a four-block area surrounding this site. They employed thousands of workers, and historians say the smell of beer filled the air. It is also a reminder that these breweries were an economic engine for many ethnicities.
"You think of Germans, but it's Germans, Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Irish," said Franny Eberhart from the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts.
The building going up was already controversial when developers decided to build it over the park that had been here. It became more of an issue this week when archaeologists had so little time to photograph and document the find.
The brewery is now basically gone for good, but the archaeologists did manage to salvage a brick which they say dates back potentially to 1885. They say they'll give it to the founder's great-great grandson, Jacob Ruppert III.
"He treasures his family's history so I'm delighted that he'll be able to have that," said Eberhart.
And even though the Brewery is gone, the Ruppert name lives on in the Ruppert Towers, offering just a hint of what Yorkville used to be.