KINGSBRIDGE, AN EARLY QUARRYING DISTRICT ON MANHATTAN ISLAND
Lawrence H. Conklin, 2 West 46th Street, New York, New York 10036
N.B.: This article appeared in Mineralogical Record, volume 28, November-December, 1997.
Cambrian/Ordovician marble beds comprise much of the northern end of Manhattan Island. Surface exposures of this rock were exploited by the earliest settlers there in the second half of the 17 th century and commercial quarries were in operation by the late 18th century. The area yielded mineral specimens before the year 1809 and was recorded in print as an American mineral locality in 1812. Quarrying ceased in the 1840's, but in its day the Kingsbridge area was familiar to mineralogists and collectors as a source of well-crystallized diopside, pyrite, pyrrhotite, rutile, titanite, tourmaline and other minerals.
My interest in Kingsbridge was revived (I collected mineral specimens there as a boy in the 1940's) during a visit, in 1994, to The Old Print Shop in New York City, where I purchased a quaint little drawing entitled Marble Quarry, "Kingsbridge," N.Y. in 1819 (Figure 2). Collecting these old glimpses of New York City the way it once was is one of my special interests; another is the history of early American mineral collecting. The drawing was done with brush and ink and is of the school of Archibald Robertson (1765-1835). Robertson opened the Columbia Academy of Painting on Liberty St. in New York City in 1792 and this is likely the work of a student. The Old Print Shop had other examples done in the same style, some by other hands, showing various views in the city. The acquisition of the drawing spurred me to explore the printed record to find out what could be learned about marble and mineral specimen production at Kingsbridge, and especially about the quarry and the house depicted in the sketch.
Figure 2 - "Marble Quarry, Kingsbridge, N.Y. in 1819." A contemporary brush-and-ink rendering. The house, built around 1810, was owned in 1819 by the Bolton family and their quarry shown at the left foreground was then in full operation. The view is from the north-east. Collection of the author.
Whereas a few locations in early New York City are recorded as quarrying sites for building stone or road metal in the Manhattan schist (which, in earlier times, was called granite), no area was as extensively exploited for quarried stone as were the marble ridges near Kingsbridge, at the island's northern tip. At least one large mansion was constructed entirely of this rock around the year 1845 and there may well have been others. Also produced were numerous tombstones, many still visible in several places on the island, funereal monuments, burial vaults and so on. Lime for mortar cement and plaster, always an important commodity, was produced by several kilns in the district.
This area was the first place recorded in the literature as a distinct Manhattan Island mineral specimen locality. Indeed, Kingsbridge is listed as one of only two specific Manhattan localities in James Dwight Dana's (1850) Catalogue of American Localities of Minerals. The Kingsbridge location was published as a source of specimens in the year 1812 and was a mineral collecting site before 1809.
The marble industry was, apparently, well established in Kingsbridge by the end of the 18th century and it can be safely assumed that mineral specimen collecting there was not far behind or, perhaps, even preceded the formal quarrying.
Significant private mineral collections were being assembled in the city at this time, by purchase and by field-collecting. Around 1786, Samuel L. Mitchill, M.D. (1764-1831) brought to New York City, from Edinburgh, one of the earliest mineral collections to come to America. Dr. David Hosack (1769-1835) owned a large collection of minerals which he opened to public viewing at his famous "Elgin Garden," established around 1804, at what is now Rockefeller Center near Fifth Avenue and 50th Street. However, the most important local devotee of minerals during this period was Manhattan-born, Archibald Bruce, M.D. (1777-1818). His publication The American Mineralogical Journal (New York, 1810-1814), had a strong, positive influence on the science of mineralogy and mineral collecting. Bruce built a very large collection during his short life-span.
Jacobus Dyckman's ancestors settled in New Haerlem (an ancient village that existed for a time on northern Manhattan) around 1660. He added to his already large holdings of land there by purchasing, in the 1790's (according to H. D. Romer and H. B. Hartman in Jan Dyckman and his Descendants, New York, 1981), "certain acreage to the north, including Marble Hill a profitable marble quarry." The name "Marble Hill," however, is modern and was invented by a real-estate developer in the year 1891; but, on a map drawn for The American Scenic and Historical Preservation Society by Reginald Pelham Bolton in 1906, that appears in Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Spuyten Duyvil, New York by William A. Tieck (1968), Bolton indicates a fairly large former marble quarry on Marble Hill. According to the mapmaker it existed on land that was once owned by Jacobus Dyckman. Incidentally, a founding member and one-time president of The American Scenic and Historical Preservation Society was George Frederick Kunz (1856-1932). Kunz was a gemologist and mineralogist with Tiffany & Co. and the pink variety of the mineral spodumene was named kunzite in his honor. As the founder and longtime president of The New York Mineralogical Club, Kunz organized and led many Club outings to the Kingsbridge area in order to collect mineral specimens from the marble there. (Figure 13).
Figure 3 - "Residence of Isaac Dyckman. Kingsbridge, N.Y. 1861" from Valentine, (1861). The house from Figure 2 is shown here 42 years later and from the south-west. Collection of the author.
Proof that marble from this area was being produced during the first quarter of the 18th century survives as a headstone in Trinity churchyard, on lower Broadway at Wall Street, with the date 1723 still visible upon it. Other Kingsbridge area marble headstones in the same churchyard are dated 1777, 1795 and 1796 and there are many others perhaps older, judging by their weathered appearance, whose dates and inscriptions have been entirely obliterated by time and the elements. By contrast, nearby headstones of the same period, made of sandstone (called brownstone) quarried in the Connecticut River valley, are holding up much better.
Remains of even earlier Kingsbridge marble gravestones can be seen today in the Jews' Burying Ground in lower Manhattan near present-day Chatham Square. This is the earliest cemetery established on the island and it is likely that it originated in the year 1652 with a grant of land by Peter Stuyvesant's Council. Some of the gravestones almost certainly date from the 17th century but their inscriptions are long gone. In fact, some stones are so severely weathered that they have shrunk to less than half their original size and look much like melting ice cream pops. Considering their date it is likely that these stones were obtained from surface excavations, but early quarrying cannot be ruled out.
Figure 4 - "Kingsbridge Ship Canal thru [sic.] Limestone N.Y. City." From an old glass lantern-slide taken by Gilman S. Stanton circa 1893. An historic photograph taken during the excavation for the canal. The old house is barely visible at top-center. What may be the remains of one end of the former quarry, now filled with water, can be seen at the far right. Courtesy of Richard Hauck and the Richard Hauck Archives.
By the year 1808, production of marble had become quite extensive, as shown by a statement made by John Randel, Jr. in his narrative "City of New York, north of Canal Street in 1808 to 1821" (Randel, 1864). "From 213th to 217th street the road [called at the time the Kingsbridge road and now known as Broadway] passed along the foot of the eastern slope of marble quarries." This places additional marble quarries in Kingsbridge, in the year 1808, on the lands of the Dyckman family and elsewhere. The Dyckmans at one time owned the largest single tract of land in the history of Manhattan and were honored by the naming of present-day Dyckman Street, an important east-west thoroughfare that traverses their former lands. Jacobus Dyckman lends his name to today's Jacobus Place on Marble Hill.
John Randel, Jr., (ca. 1780-1865), a surveyor, was responsible for the field work that resulted in the historic "Commissioners Map." This map, published in 1811 and almost eight feet in length, laid out the current grid pattern of Manhattan's streets. The commissioners, three gentlemen of the City, had been charged by the New York State Legislature "to lay out streets, roads and public squares" in rural Manhattan (mostly north of 14th Street) and this they did, virtually ignoring the natural topography of the island. Their map is generally considered to be the most influential in the history of the development of the city.
Randel, who wrote his narrative in 1864, was but one year from his death at the time, and recollections of observations he made almost 60 years previous must, therefore, be read with some caution. It should be remembered that the streets he mentioned did not yet exist in the year 1808 and he may well have also seen, but did not record, the quarry on Marble Hill claimed by Romer and Hartman (1981) and also by Bolton in Tieck (1968).
Figure 5 - A still later depiction of the old house called, by this time, "The Old Homestead Boarding House," viewed from the south. The former quarry site lies in the bed of the present Harlem River. Photograph from the New York Herald around 1905. Collection of the author.
Figure 6 - The same scene, approximately, as shown in Figure 4 as it appeared on April 6, 1913 after the old house had been demolished. From a hand-tinted, glass lantern-slide taken by James G. Manchester. Courtesy of Richard Hauck and the Richard Hauck Archives.
The identification of the house in the sketch (Figure 2) allows the exact site of the depicted quarry to be determined. It was built around 1810 and was pleasantly situated on the southern slope of Marble Hill, 350 feet west of present-day Broadway, approximately 200 feet from, and looking down on, two small tidal creeks. It was probably built by members of the Tison or Post families who were heirs of Jan Nagel, a settler there in the year 1677. According to Reginald Pelham Bolton, in his Washington Heights, Manhattan, Its Eventful Past (1924), the house was purchased in 1816 by his ancestors Curtis and John Bolton who were "the pioneers in the marble industry, and alongside the High [Albany Post] Road, opposite [350 feet southeast of] their dwelling, they opened a marble quarry "
It is likely that the quarry already existed in 1816 and that the Boltons expanded the operation by, among other things, exploiting the creeks that ran between the house and the quarry as a source of power for sawing the blocks of stone. For many years this waterway was known as the Bolton Canal and then later, the Dyckman Canal until its obliteration by the Harlem Ship Canal in the 1890's. Tieck (1968) states that although the Boltons left in 1824, marble production continued in the area for some time under the auspices of the Lambert family.
Figure 7 - The Isaac Michael Dyckman ice pond (formerly a marble quarry) as it appeared on June 29, 1898. Photograph by James Reuel Smith. From Smith (1938). Collection of The New-York Historical Society.
Dyckmans purchased this "old yellow house" and moved into it in 1850, but by that time the quarrying of marble had ceased. The house was, according to a description in Tieck (1968), of central-hall type, of good size, 40 x 25 feet, with the hall measuring about ten feet in width.
Figure 3 shows the Tison/Post-Bolton-Dyckman house, and surroundings, as it appeared in 1861 when it was owned by Isaac Dyckman. (Incidentally, this view from Valentine (1861) is reproduced by Kouvenhoven (1953) but is incorrectly identified.) Whatever remained of the quarry by 1861 does not show in this view but outcroppings of marble are prominently depicted in the foreground. The Dyckmans moved out of the house by the end of the 1860's.
A view of the quarry site from Figure 2 (or what remained of it by the year 1893) was photographed during the building of the Harlem Ship Canal (Figure 4). What may be at least part of the quarry, reduced by this time to a water-filled hole, can be seen at the extreme right in the photograph. The canal, in this vicinity, followed the path of the old tidal creeks that had been exploited by the Boltons almost a century earlier, and probably even earlier by their predecessors.
When the United States Ship Canal (now designated the Harlem River) was completed in 1895 the remains of the old quarry were obliterated by the water. The house, quite run-down by this time and fit only for use as a boarding-house, was left very close to the water's edge (Figure 5). Ten years later the rerouting of the Hudson Railroad, along the bank of the canal, resulted in the destruction of the house but increased the exposure of the marble (Figure 6).
The construction of the Harlem Ship Canal cut off from Manhattan island a piece of land approximately 52 acres in size. That detached land, which includes some of the former acreage of the Tison/Post/Bolton/Dyckman families and the remains of other quarries on present-day Marble Hill, is still, politically, part of Manhattan although it is now physically attached only to the Borough of The Bronx. The original upper boundary of Manhattan island was an east-west creek that ran somewhat to the north of the northern slope of present-day Marble Hill and is now entirely filled in.
In a quaint work entitled Springs and Wells of Manhattan and the Bronx New York City at the End of the Nineteenth Century (1938), the author, James Reuel Smith, recorded his travels around upper Manhattan during the years 1898 to 1901, and documented, with photographs, the few surviving natural sources of fresh water. Smith was almost certainly describing an abandoned quarry in the marble, which by 1898 had become an ice pond, when he wrote
The [Isaac Michael, not the previously mentioned Isaac, but his nephew] Dyckman ice pond is about one hundred and fifty feet north of the Seaman-Drake estate [it] is about three hundred feet long by seventy-five feet wide and for the most part is cut out of the solid natural rock. [Emphasis added.] Heavy trees and foliage and vines surround it, and I came within a foot or two of walking into it over a bluff twenty-five feet high!
As final proof, Smith's photograph of the pond (Figure 7) looks very much like many an abandoned, water-filled quarry that I have seen over the years. If this was, indeed, a quarry, it yielded, according to Smith's measurements, a lot of marble more than 20,000 cubic yards! It was situated on land that is now occupied by Columbia University's Baker Field.
Archibald Bruce, M.D. wrote, in his The American Mineralogical Journal (Bruce, 1814a), a "Description of Some of the Combinations of Titanium Occurring within the United States." In it he described four specimens of Kingsbridge rutile which he owned and almost certainly collected personally in the field. He depicted one in an engraved plate (Figure 14) and wrote:
The above specimens...are from the island of New-York. They were found in the limestone ridge which crosses the island at its northern extremity, near Kingsbridge. The limestone, which is primitive, has running through it in different directions, veins from one to three or four inches thick, composed of quartz, felspar, mica, and granular lime-stone: through which the oxide of Titanium is sparingly disseminated. The quartz is of the ftid kind, giving out an unpleasant odour on being fractured.
In the same article Bruce wrote also of "Silico-Calcareous Oxide of Titanium" (titanite) and mentioned:
Small brilliant crystals...of a light dove colour, imbedded in primitive carbonate of lime, from the marble quarry at Kingsbridge, Island of New-York.
"The marble quarry" mentioned by Bruce as the source of his specimens could have been the Bolton quarry pictured in Figure 2, although there were others in the Kingsbridge area producing marble at the time. The Bolton quarry was, apparently, the most important. These sites were probably often visited by mineral collectors desirous of obtaining specimens to add to their cabinets. Unfortunately, no specimens known to be from the early quarries can be positively identified today.
Kingsbridge was a favorite with other early physician/mineralogists, too. In his Chymical Exercises (1819), William James MacNeven, M.D., (1763-1841) wrote extensively about the area
The limestone district adjacent to Kingsbridge is shown, by the character of its minerals and the position of its strata, to be chiefly primitive. The marble extends two or three miles into the county of New-York [Manhattan], and is the termination of a range of primitive granular limestone [that at Kingsbridge] is stratified presenting an inclination to the south-east of from sixty to seventy degrees.
He remarked that it was the only locality in the United States at which could be found crystals of "white augite [diopside] in nearly rectangular prisms." He also noted that "the limestone of Kingsbridge embraces pyroxene, tremolite, mica, fetid quartz, oxide of titanium, adularia, tourmaline and sulphuret of iron." Samuel Robinson, M.D., in his A Catalogue of American Minerals With Their Localities (1825), devoted a full page to Kingsbridge minerals, and in 1842, Lewis Caleb Beck, M.D., (1798-1853) summarized what he knew of Kingsbridge minerals in his Mineralogy of New York (1842).
By the year 1888, Benjamin B. Chamberlin was referring to Kingsbridge in the past tense (Chamberlin, 1888). He wrote: "Nearly fifty years ago the Kingsbridge quarries were much resorted to by collectors." By the time that James G. Manchester wrote, in 1931, The Mineralogy of New York City and Its Environs, the city was encroaching seriously on the few remaining collecting sites, and there are no further references known to me, thereafter in the literature, to mineral collecting at Kingsbridge.
GEOLOGY and PETROLOGY
Figure 8 - Hawthorne Street (West 204th Street) and Cooper Street, Manhattan, the area that was "built up some twenty feet above the natural level of the land with many pieces of white marble from the quarry." Photograph taken by James Reuel Smith on December 4, 1899. From Smith (1938). Collection of The New-York Historical Society.
What is evidently the earliest printed reference to the Kingsbridge area marble was composed by the year 1808. Dr. Samuel Akerly (1785-1845) wrote "On the Geology and Mineralogy of the Island of New-York," and it was published, six years later in 1814, in The American Mineralogical Journal, volume 1, number 4, pages 191-198. (Akerly, 1814). It noted " the primitive limestone which is on the north end of the island." Unfortunately, Akerly wrote nothing at all about the rock's constituent minerals. Earlier, Samuel Latham Mitchill, M.D., in his report "A sketch of the mineralogical history of the State of New-York" (Mitchill, 1798) certainly had the opportunity to describe the marble beds, but did not mention them.
The marble of the Kingsbridge quarries was described by Robinson (1825) as a "granular limestone, sometimes traversed by narrow veins of granite, mica slate, and quartz" with occasional "yellow mica," diopside, tourmaline, kyanite, feldspar, tremolite, pyrite, rutile, dolomite and titanite. He states further that the limestone unit "passes through West Chester [sic.] County [NY], in strata dipping to the S.E. at about 65į," and is "connected with that extensive deposit of granular limestone which accompanies primitive rocks from Canada through the eastern parts of New England, crosses the Hudson near Stony Point into Rockland Co. [New York], and again appears in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia."
Leo M. Hall, writing in Studies of Appalachian Geology: Northern and Maritime (Hall, 1968), subdivided those vast Cambrian-Ordovician marble beds, as they are observed in the Greater New York area, into five units which he labeled Inwood A B C D and E and described them.
Inwood A (the Kingsbridge area): Well bedded white, gray or blue-gray dolomite marble.
Inwood B (Tuckahoe and White Plains, New York area): Interbedded white, gray, buff or pinkish dolomite-marble, tan and reddish brown calc-schist, purplish brown or tan siliceous calc-schist and granulites, tan quartzite, and calcite-dolomite marble; bedding is typically one half inch to four feet thick. He estimated them to be 2000 feet thick in some places!
Inwood C (Ossining, New York area): White or blue-gray, clean, dolomite marble.
Inwood D : (Farther North): Interbedded dolomite marble, calcite marble and some calc-schist.
Inwood E : (Still farther North): Grey or white calcite marble, commonly tan weathering.
The marble deposits of northern Manhattan had long before Leo Hall's time been called Inwood. That name has been in general use in the area since about 1870, but Hall expanded its use to include the entire region.
Unfortunately, it was observed that even in the days of relatively low-level atmospheric pollution, much, but not all, of the Inwood A marble of Kingsbridge tended to weather rapidly and so the quarrying of it for building stone was eventually abandoned. John A. Dix (1836), reporting as the Secretary of the State of New York noted that
The marble at Kingsbridge is mixed with iron pyrites, which on exposure to the weather stains and hastens the decomposition of the stone. [Actually, the pyrite is relatively scarce in the marble and contributed very little to the weathering problem. I have personally observed no pyrite in the surviving pieces. The pyritiferous marble was obviously avoided, whenever possible, by the stonemasons.] Unless it is found in a purer state on further examination, it cannot be advantageously used for architectural purposes.
Figure 9 - Arched gateway of Inwood A marble, in its original (and present) location at Broadway and 216th Street as it appeared in the early twentieth century when it graced the entrance to the Seaman-Drake estate. The automobile is a 1910 Matheson. Collection of The New-York Historical Society.
Beck (1842) believed that the quarries ceased operating by 1842, and said:
The quarries at Kingsbridge have furnished a considerable amount of marble. It is granular, and belongs to the dolomitic variety. By exposure to the weather, some of the specimens fall to pieces, and form a kind of calcareous sand. It is now, I believe, [and had been for almost two hundred years previous to this time] chiefly used for burning into lime. [Beck did not believe the included pyrite was the main weathering problem.]
Indeed, one has only to look at the gravestones, previously mentioned, in the early Jews' Burying Ground, for examples of the weathering described by Beck, although these stones have not fallen to pieces and do not appear to bear any pyrite. The early dated headstones that survive in Trinity churchyard seem to be exceptions.
Issachar Cozzens, (1780-1865) writing in A Geological History Of Manhattan Or New York Island (1843), called the Inwood A formation a "primitive limestone" (it is one of the oldest of the New York City rocks) and said:
[It] is well known; it is a Dolomite. This Dolomite I examined some 16 years ago, and found it to contain about 28 per cent of Carbonate of Magnesia, from which I manufactured good Epsom Salts (Sulphate of Magnesia) and [it] has all the varieties of white, gray and light blue, granular, coarse marble; it begins at the south end of Mr. Dyckman's farm and runs through the middle of the Island to Spuytenduyvel creek; the same rock runs through Westchester County, and is seen on the other side of Kingsbridge, and thence along the river toward Yonkers [where it is known as the Tuckahoe/Inwood B marble] A quarry was opened at Kingsbridge, some years ago, which proved unprofitable.
In New York City, in 1822, The Bank of the United States building was erected on Wall Street, just east of Broad Street and in 1853 it became the United States Assay Office. It was constructed of Inwood B marble from the Tuckahoe beds, in Westchester county, some 18 miles from the city. Tuckahoe produced a finer-grained Inwood marble than that of the Kingsbridge quarries, but it is mostly devoid of mineral specimens. In 1827 The Merchants' Exchange building, which boasted one-piece columns at least twenty-four feet high, was also built of this rock. The Merchants' Exchange was totally consumed by the Great Fire of 1835, but the handsome facade of the Assay Office (complete with pediment) was preserved when the building was taken down in 1915 and is on display at the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
There were once several Inwood marble quarries located along the ridge paralleling the Bronx River in the town of Eastchester, between Crestwood and Tuckahoe. Operations there started around 1820 and continued until 1930.
Before marble quarrying began in Vermont around 1850, the Tuckahoe beds of the Inwood B were the single most important source of white marble in America. Shipments of this building stone were made from Boston to New Orleans and many places in between. Other notable buildings constructed of this marble include Lyndhurst in Tarrytown, New York (the Jay Gould mansion), the Borough Hall of Brooklyn, New York and the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.
The site of the Ossining Correctional Facility (Sing Sing Prison) was chosen because of the availability of Inwood marble. At this location convicts quarried the rock from which the prison was built. Nice crystals of diopside and specimens of rutile on dolomite were reported from here. The Kingsbridge quarrying area was once considered as a possible site for a penitentiary for the same reasons that Ossining was chosen.
Huge quarried blocks of Inwood A/B marble can be seen today in lower Manhattan serving as the foundation of the old Custom House (later known as the Sub-Treasury building) erected in 1842 and still standing on the corner of Broad and Wall Streets. This rock came from a site around 138th Street near where the present-day Third Avenue Bridge enters the borough of the Bronx. This quarrying site was, at that time, part of Westchester County.
The Snowflake Quarry at Thornwood, Westchester County, New York survived until 1973 supplying, in its last days, Inwood B marble that was crushed for use in terrazzo and stucco, and fine marble powder that was used in paint and soap.
The commercial exploitation of the various Inwood marble beds lasted for a period of more than three hundred years.
Smith (1938) mentions the Inwood A marble deposits several times. He states that the area at Hawthorne Street (West 204th Street) near Broadway was "built up some twenty feet above the natural level of the land with many pieces of white marble from the quarry" and shows an excellent photograph of the location (Figure 8). Unfortunately there is no way to ascertain if "the quarry" was re-worked for this project or if, as seems most likely, existing material, perhaps rubble from the Harlem Ship Canal excavation, was used.
Smith continues and describes the "magnificent" Seaman-Drake estate, of 26 acres in 1898, that stood just west of present Broadway at 216th Street until it was demolished in 1939 and says that:
The dwelling [erected for Valentine Seaman around 1845 at a cost of $150,000] itself is of [Inwood A] marble [which was quarried on the property and came, almost certainly, from the excavation that produced the Dyckman ice pond shown in Figure 7!]. Its large white marble entrance arch (said to have cost $30,000) has for half a century challenged the admiring observation of every traveler entering or leaving New York City by the Hudson River Railroad.
That arch, actually an arched gateway, is the largest surviving object made of Inwood A marble. Although no longer the visual landmark it was when described by Smith (Figure 9), it survives, in situ as it were, almost swallowed up by modern Broadway. It stands today, patched with modern bricks and vandalized by graffiti, rather under-utilized as part of the entrance to an auto body repair shop. It is partly hidden from sight because it is set back from the current building line at 216th Street. (Figure 10). One suspects that it survived the modernization of Broadway simply because the cost of its demolition and removal was (and probably still is) prohibitive. Today it is still quite impressive and, with its architectonic massiveness (sight measurements- 30 by 20 by 12 feet), is reminiscent of the well-known granite arch of New York City at Washington Square but, of course, on a much reduced scale. It seems to be holding up quite well to the weather and air pollution, and is not, as Beck (1842) noted, constructed of "the specimens [that] fall to pieces" and it contains little or no noticeable pyrite inclusions.
James G. Manchester in his The Mineralogy of New York City and Its Environs (1931) writing almost a century after Beck, Cozzens, et al., discussed the area in some detail:
The crystalline limestone [technically, it is a metamorphosed limestone, or marble] extending from Vermont to North Carolina, is a part of the rock foundation of New York City and comes to the surface at a number of points, principally in the northerly section of the city. The navigable channels around the island are submerged valleys which came into existence through the ease with which this limestone is eroded, its hardness being about 3 on the scale. [Actually it is more about solubility than hardness although the two are related. There is, surviving to this day at the northern-most end of Manhattan island, a large area substantially un-eroded and called, appropriately, Marble Hill.] In the section known as Inwood Valley the prevailing rock is limestone [now called Inwood marble A] and in it many fine minerals have been found, particularly near the zones of contact with the mica schist [and its pegmatite intrusions]. The vacant land in this region, however, is rapidly being improved with buildings and it will not be many years before the opportunity to collect minerals will be somewhat limited. Among the more important minerals reported are pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, pyrite, marcasite, rock crystal, smoky quartz, rutile, calcite, aragonite [the author pictured a specimen of "Aragonite var. Flos Ferri, Broadway and 215th Street, Manhattan Island, N.Y." as his plate No. 36. This location is but one city-block south of the great marble gateway], malacolite [diopside], tremolite, asbestos, brown tourmaline [uvite], muscovite, foliated talc and gypsum. During the construction of the Harlem Ship Canal [more than a half-million] tons of limestone [including what remained of the former Bolton complex] were removed and the waste pile [on the site that became present-day Baker Field] was the lure of collectors for many years. [Figure 13].
The finest collection of Kingsbridge area mineral specimens surviving today belongs to the New York Mineralogical Club and has been permanently deposited by the Club at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. All of the species described below are represented there in at least a few examples, in some cases many.
Calcite in crystals, rare from Kingsbridge, forms scalenohedrons up to 1 cm. across and has been collected on quartz crystals as in Figure 17.
Diopside CaMgSi2O6 Diopside CaMgSi2O6
Archibald Bruce was, it seems, the first mineralogist to encounter diopside from Kingsbridge without, apparently, knowing what it was
A mineral presenting some characters which rendered its nature doubtful, [probable clarification: 'I did not have a clue to its identity'] we some time ago transmitted to Paris, for the examination of our venerable friend M. HaŁy, [Renť Just HaŁy (1743-1822)] who, after duly considering its structure agreeably to the laws of crystallization, has pronounced it to be Pyroxene. [The name pyroxene was created by HaŁy in 1796 for a new mineral species; that name is now used for a group of minerals.] This substance is white, and occurs crystallized in eight-sided prisms, of which two opposite sides are often much larger than the other six, so as to present a tabulated form. The prism is variously terminated, sometimes resembling the Pyroxene of Vesuvius, while in other instances the termination is more complex, giving rise to a new variety which M. HaŁy has named ťpimťride. Specific gravity 3.1. Crystals of various sizes, from minute to several inches in length are found imbedded in the primitive limestone which crosses the island of New-York at its northern extremity. [Bruce, 1814b].
Bruce's phrase "some time ago" used in referring to his sending the specimens to Paris, probably meant 1811 or even earlier, since HaŁy published his comments on the mineral in 1812. HaŁy's article included a plate of crystal drawings, one of which (HaŁy's Fig. 4.) was the new form, ťpimťride. (Figure 11). This drawing was later reproduced in Victor M. Goldschmidt's Atlas der Krystallformen (1922) as his figure 9 of plate 7 in volume VII. HaŁy was very optimistic in his report and added
The soil of the United States of America has, in the last few years, become the subject of investigations which show the progress and development of mineralogy. In these investigations several highly distinguished scientists Messieurs [Archibald] Bruce, [Benjamin S.] Barton, [Charles W.] Peale, [Silvain] Godon de St.-Memin, [William] Maclure and [Samuel L.] Mitchill have participated, most of them Americans; and the progress which has already been made gives the right to expect, in the future, the harvest of that which they have begun with so much zeal and success. (HaŁy, 1812).
Cleaveland, (1816), cited the notice published by Bruce and mentioned the "new and more complex variety of form," ťpimťride.
In 1819 MacNeven described "white augite [diopside] in nearly rectangular prisms" from the Kingsbridge quarry and noted that "[this] was, for a long time, the only locality for this mineral in the United States, but Mr. Pierce has lately met with it at Singsing, higher up the Hudson," also from Inwood marble deposits. MacNeven also made note of associated pyroxene, tremolite, mica, fetid quartz, rutile, adularia, tourmaline and pyrite. Robinson (1825) described the crystals as having "4 sided tables [terminations]" and "8 sided prisms." Dana (1837) merely noted the occurrence. Beck (1842), in his review of New York State's mineralogy, remarked that the "abandoned quarries at Kingsbridge, about 208th Street, also afford very good [diopside] specimens." Beck depicted a crystal drawing of "ťpimťride." By the time of the publishing of the sixth edition of Dana's System of Mineralogy, (Dana, 1892), the occurrence was listed under augite "In N. York, in N.Y. Co[unty, i.e. Manhattan], white cryst. 2-3 in. long in dolomite."
Forty years later Manchester (1931) considered diopside (calling it "malacolite," a now-discredited name) a common mineral of the marble, often found in crystals standing out in relief on the more soluble weathered matrix, and illustrated such a specimen in his plate 42. In fact, he stated that loose single crystals had been collected years earlier in the nearby plowed fields.
I personally collected these diopside crystals as a boy in the 1940's when they were still known locally as malacolite. I remember vividly banging them out of their marble matrix with my hammer and chisel while seated on the ground and then being threatened with arrest by a gruff Irish policeman. As far as the officer could see, I was vandalizing a New York City marble sidewalk.
Dolomite CaMg (CO3) 2
Robinson (1825) reported dolomite as a component of the marble at Kingsbridge, and Beck (1842) elaborated that the dolomite is "large grained with indications of a foliated structure." Dana (1892) stated that augite crystals were found at Kingsbridge in dolomite, but I have never seen, nor heard of, such a specimen. Dana may have been referring to the dolomite-rich marble.
The early references to feldspar at Kingsbridge are rudimentary. Robinson (1825) reported "fetid feldspar... bluish white" in color. Bruce (1814a) and MacNeven (1819) had also reported feldspar, but without further description, except that MacNeven mentions the presence of adularia. Beck (1842) described a fetid feldspar as coming from a white limestone at "Thompson's quarry, near 196th Street." This excavation, probably a later one, was almost a mile and one-half from the Bolton quarry and about a mile from the area described by John Randel, Jr. but was located on the same Inwood A marble unit, probably near its southern and western limits. Chamberlin (1888) described the mineral assemblage at Thompson's quarry as including rutile, diopside, kyanite, phlogopite, brown tourmaline, fetid feldspar, tremolite and titanite. The quarry may have belonged to Samuel Thompson who Bolton (1924) called "one of the earliest of those well-to-do residents who settled on the Inwood hillside overlooking the Hudson River." George C. Wissig, Jr., in Bedrock Geology of the Ossining Quadrangle, New York (1979), found potassium-feldspar in the Inwood beds by microprobe analysis.
Robinson (1825) reported "rhaetizite" (an early synonym for kyanite) as occurring at Kingsbridge in "yellowish white, crystalline masses, laminated, translucent or transparent." This description appears to have been taken essentially verbatim from Cleaveland (1822), who cites his source as the "Rev. F. C. Schaeffer," apparently as a personal communication from a local collector.
Muscovite KAl2 (Si3Al) O10 (OH,F) 2
The designation of the "mica" as muscovite is merely a guess but a fairly safe one. Robinson (1825) reported "yellow mica." Bruce (1814a) and MacNeven (1819) both reported "mica" without further description. Beck (1842), however, described tourmaline as occurring with a "reddish brown mica" that may perhaps have been phlogopite. Chamberlin (1888) actually does call it phlogopite, having a "handsome light brown" color. The Kingsbridge mica in general, he says, exhibits a variety of colors and occurs in plates seldom of large size but sometimes having a perfect tabular-hexagonal crystal habit.
"Sulphuret of iron" was reported by Robinson (1825) as "small dodecahedrons with pentagonal faces," and earlier by MacNeven (1819) without giving a description. Manchester (1931) noted pyrite as well as pyrrhotite, marcasite and chalcopyrite, all of which may have fallen under Robinson's "sulphuret of iron." The pyrite crystals, he said, were "quite common" in the limestone, "where they have been found in such a variety of form and brilliancy of luster as to make them a welcome addition to any cabinet." Illustrated here (Figure 12) is an example of the type of pyrite crystal ("dodecahedrons with pentagonal faces") to which Robinson referred. Manchester collected it and Whitlock illustrated it in the American Mineralogist in 1919. Manchester also illustrated it in his 1931 book. It is the best example that I know of, and is a fine specimen by any standard of judgment. The American Museum of Natural History acquired it from me in 1962 along with a few other New York City specimens that had been illustrated in The Mineralogy of New York City and Its Environs. Manchester had also collected other specimens of pyrite in marble which he treated with acid to free the individual pyrite crystals. Ten of these were then measured goniometrically by Whitlock (1919), and one was figured as a crystal drawing. Whitlock described their habit as uniformly rather flattened, and showing combinations of 11 different crystal forms.
Figure 12 - Pyrite crystal 8 mm. across in crystalline calcite. 207th Street and Broadway. American Museum of Natural History specimen #35106, gift of Lawrence H. Conklin. Illustrated by Whitlock, (1919) and Manchester, (1931). AMNH photograph by Jackie Beckett.
Manchester (1931) described "small, hexagonal crystals of thin, tabular habit, iridescent blue in color." These may not have come from Kingsbridge quarries per se, but from masses of rubble thrown up during the digging of the Harlem Ship Canal. Smith (1938) noted that in 1898 for "three acres of ground, made of the white stone taken from the Canal the United States are paying Mr. [Isaac Michael] Dyckman $2000 a year rent." (Figure 13). Those three acres are included in the present Baker Field location. Specimens of massive pyrrhotite in veins up to 2.5 cm running through the marble were also reported.
Figure 13 - The New York Mineralogical Club members collecting at the marble waste-pile excavated from the Harlem Ship Canal, 1887. Photograph by J. RŲsch. Collection of the author.
"Fetid quartz" that gave off an odor when broken was described by Bruce (1814a) and MacNeven (1819). It is a common constituent of the veins penetrating the marble. Small clear quartz crystals of good form are seen occasionally.
Figure 14 - Rutile and titanite crystals from Kingsbridge as illustrated in Bruce, (1814), Plate II, figure 1.
Rutile was first reported and figured from Kingsbridge by Bruce (1814a); (Figure 14), who found it "sparingly disseminated" in veins 2.5 to 7.5 cm wide cutting granular limestone. Associated minerals were said to include fetid quartz, feldspar and mica. The specimens in his collection included: (1) "small quadrangular prismatic, nearly acicular semi-transparent crystals of a dark red color, variously recumbent on a granitic aggregate..." (2) a "small dark red semi-transparent double [twinned] crystal four-sided prisms the surface highly resplendent " (3) a "large amorphous blood-red" mass on white feldspar, and (4) "light red acicular embedded in bluish quartz." MacNeven (1819) noted its presence as well, but without giving a description. Manchester (1931) described "finely terminated crystals ... semi-transparent, ranging from blood-red to wine color, [and] capillary crystals to one inch or more in length extending across a vug or cavity lined with calcite crystals." (Figure 18.)
Titanite, like rutile, was first reported and figured from Kingsbridge by Bruce (1814a). He described "small, brilliant crystals of a light dove colour, imbedded in granular primitive carbonate of lime."
Figure 15 - Uvite (brown tourmaline) crystals, largest 2.5 cm., in marble. 225th Street, west of Broadway. New York Mineralogical Club collection at American Museum of Natural History #1220. AMNH photograph by Jackie Beckett.
MacNeven (1819) reported tourmaline from Kingsbridge, but without giving further description. Robinson (1825) referred to "schorl" and "red tourmaline" embedded in dolomitic limestone, as crystals in various shades of red and brown, and cited an 1820 article in Silliman's Journal as his source which was actually the abstract of an 1819 lecture presented at the "Lyceum of Natural History, New-York" by Mr. N. Pauling. The lecturer described a red tourmaline found at Kingsbridge by Mr. I. Pierce, which was supposed at first to be rubellite but was really just a schorl. He gives a surprisingly detailed morphological description:
The fundamental form appears to be an equilateral three-sided prism, acuminated by three planes, which at one extremity are set on the lateral planes. This form is variously modified by truncation and bevelments. Most of the crystals are bevelled on the lateral edges, forming nine-sided prisms. Sometimes the lateral planes are nearly destitute of striae, though the faces of the acumination are always smooth and splendent. [He then gives a series of interfacial angles, and notes that they] agree almost precisely with the tourmaline isogone of HaŁy.
Cleaveland (1822) also cited red tourmaline.
Robinson (1825) reported schorl (separately from "tourmaline") as occurring at Kingsbridge in "brown or reddish brown, translucent, usually 9-sided prisms, terminated at each end by 3 faces. Also in brownish yellow, 6-sided prisms well-terminated by 3 planes." Beck (1842) describes "tourmaline" crystals in brown, yellowish brown and reddish brown colors, in 6-sided prisms with three terminal faces, associated with a reddish brown mica.
Manchester (1931) adds a bit more information, describing "finely terminated brown tourmaline, some of gem quality, and small green tourmalines embedded in cream-colored calcite" at the "northerly end of Broadway where at times this mineral is to be found in many of the rock excavations of the neighborhood." He depicted, in his frontispiece plate, two small, brown-colored, faceted stones of this material. These stones, probably uvite, passed through my hands more than thirty years ago and, although they were small, it is my recollection that they were of fine quality.
I have never seen nor heard of any tourmaline from this location that was not almost certainly uvite or schorl.
Figure 16 - Diopside (malacolite) crystal, 5 cm. in marble. 207th Street and Broadway. New York Mineralogical Club collection at American Museum of Natural History #1214. AMNH photograph by Jackie Beckett.
Tremolite Ca2 (Mg, Fe 2+)5Si8O22 (OH)2
Robinson (1825) mentioned tremolite at Kingsbridge, "both [presumably coarsely] crystallized and in fibrous masses" in the marble. MacNeven (1819) had noted it too, but without giving a description. Beck (1842) noted "a beautiful white and bluish white tremolite," sometimes in "broad laminated masses," with folia sometimes "six to nine inches in length."
Figure 17 - Calcite scalenohedron 1 cm. across on quartz crystals. 207th Street and Broadway. New York Mineralogical Club collection at American Museum of Natural History #1170. AMNH photograph by Jackie Beckett.
Wissig (1979), writing of the overall Inwood marble deposit, added to the traditional list of species those minerals he observed by microprobe analysis. They are phlogopite, scapolite, apatite, zircon, sericite, sillimanite, biotite, olivine, serpentine and chlorite.
Figure 18 - Rutile "V" twin, 8 mm. high. 207th Street and Broadway. New York Mineralogical Club collection at American Museum of Natural History #1180. AMNH photograph by Denis Finnen.
Figure 19 - Uvite (brown tourmaline) crystal, 1 cm. high. 225th Street, west of Broadway. New York Mineralogical Club collection at American Museum of Natural History #1182. AMNH photograph by Denis Finnen.
The Kingsbridge quarries, like virtually every other early mineral collecting site on Manhattan island, are now long gone and covered over with concrete, steel, asphalt and water. There are no workable outcroppings of the marble anywhere on the island that might offer the modern collector a glimpse of what all the fuss was about nearly two centuries ago. Even the surviving mineral specimens have dwindled to a rare few as attrition has taken its toll on the early collections, leaving present-day mineralogists and collectors almost no clues at all to the former prominence of this interesting and historic quarrying district and its unique mineral assemblage.
Thank you to Wendell E. Wilson for making order out of the original draft of this article, and thanks to the following for their help: John Betts, Louis D'Alonzo, Robyn Green, George Harlow, Richard Hauck and the Hauck Archives, Sidney Horenstein, Steven P. Maslansky, Charles Pearson, Joseph J. Peters, Stephen E. Pober, Joel Poliner and Juan Salvador. Special thanks go to Robert T. Curran, Jr. whose powers of observation never fail to amaze.
Akerly, S. (1814, i.e. 1808) On the Geology and Mineralogy of the Island of New-York in The American Mineralogical Journal, 1 (4), 191-198.
Beck, L. C. (1842) Mineralogy of New-York. White and Visscher, Albany.
Bolton, R. P. (1924) Washington Heights, Manhattan, Its Eventful Past. Dyckman Institute, New York.
Bruce, A. (1814a) Description of some of the combinations of titanium occurring within the United States. The American Mineralogical Journal, New York, 1 (4), 233-243 and plate II.
Bruce, A. (1814b) White Pyroxene. The American Mineralogical Journal, New York, volume 1, number 4, page 266.
Chamberlin, B. B. (1888) The minerals of New York County, [i.e. Manhattan Island] including a list complete to date. Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, 7 (7).
Cleaveland, P. (1816) An Elementary Treatise on Mineralogy and Geology. First edition, Cummings and Hilliard, Boston, page 338.
Cleaveland, P. (1822) An Elementary Treatise on Mineralogy and Geology. Two volumes. Second edition, Cummings and Hilliard, Boston, 2, 702.
Cozzens, I. (1843) A Geological History of Manhattan or New York Island. W. E. Dean, New York.
Dana, J. D. (1837) A System of Mineralogy. First edition, New Haven, 307.
Dana, J. D. (1850) A System of Mineralogy. Third edition, George P. Putnam, New York and London. [Supplement: I. Catalogue of American Localities of Minerals, 643-662. Kingsbridge is cited under New York County, page 651.]
Dana, J. D. (1892) A System of Mineralogy. Sixth edition, John Wiley & Sons, New York.
(Dix, J.A.) (1836) Report of the Secretary of State-in Relation to a Geological Survey of the State of New York. Crosswell, Van Benthuysen and Burt, Albany. (New York Assembly Document No. 9 for 1836.)
Eckel, E. C. (1899) Intrusives in the Inwood Limestone of Manhattan Island. The American Geologist, February, 1899, 122-124.
Goldschmidt, V. M. (1913-1923) Atlas der Krystallformen. Nine volumes. Heidelberg.
Hall, J. (1886) Report on building stones, in the Thirty-Ninth Report, State Museum of Natural History, Albany.
Hall, L. M. (1968) Times of origin and deformation of bedrock in the Manhattan Prong in Studies of Appalachian Geology: Northern and Maritime. (Zen, White, Hadley and Thompson, editors.), New York.
HaŁy, R. J. (1812) Sur des cristaux de pyroxŤne des environs de New-Yorck. Annales du Musťum d'Histoire Naturelle. Volume XIX, 263.
Hazen, R.M. & M.H. (1980) American Geological Literature, 1669-1850. Stroudsburg.
Hovey, E. 0. (1906) The collections illustrating the rocks and minerals of Manhattan. The American Museum Journal, 6, 6-12.
Julien, A. A. (1884) The durability of building stones in N.Y.C. and vicinity. U.S. 10th Census; Report on Building Stones. Albany.
Kouvenhoven, J. A. (1953) The Columbia Historical Portrait of New York. An essay in graphic history in honor of the Tricentennial Of New York City and the Bicentennial of Columbia University. New York.
MacNeven, W. J. (1819) Chymical Exercises. New York.
Manchester, J. G. (1931) The Mineralogy of New York City and Its Environs. New York Mineralogical Club, New York.
Mitchill, S.L. (1798) A sketch of the mineralogical history of the State of New-York. Medical Repository. 1, (3) and (4); 3, (4).
Randel, J. (1864). City of New York, north of Canal Street in 1808 to 1821. Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York. New York, 847- 856. See: Valentine.
Robinson, S. (1825) A Catalogue of American Minerals, with their Localities. Cummings, Hilliard, & Co., Boston, 133-134.
Romer, H. D. and H. B. Hartman. (1981) Jan Dyckman and his Descendants. New York. Privately printed.
Schuberth, C. J. (1968) The Geology of New York City and Environs. Garden City.
Silliman, B., editor. (1820) Abstract of the proceedings of the Lyceum of Natural History, New-York. 1819. Mr. Pauling communicated a memoir on a mineral discovery at Kingsbridge, by Mr. I. Pierce... American Journal of Science, 2, 366-367.
Smith, J. R. (1938) Springs and Wells of Manhattan and the Bronx, New York City, at the End of the Nineteenth Century. New York.
Stokes, I. N. P. (1915-1928) The Iconography of Manhattan Island. Six volumes. New York.
Tieck, W.A. (1968) Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Spuyten Duyvil, New York. Old Tappan.
Valentine, D. T. (Clerk of the Common Council), compiler. (1861) Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York. New York. Twenty-eight annual volumes were published from 1841-1866 and 1868-1870. They are all known, popularly, as "Valentine's Manuals" although Valentine had no part in those issued after 1866.
Whitlock, H. P. (1919) Pyrite crystals from Broadway and 207th Street, New York City. The American Mineralogist, 4, (4), 31-32.
Wissig, G.C. (1979) Bedrock Geology of the Ossining Quadrangle, New York in New York State Museum Map And Chart Series Number 30. Albany.
Please join my mailing list by clicking: email email@example.com
Lawrence H. Conklin
Wallingford, CT 06492
Web Site maintained by Sarah Conklin-Zimmerman & Ian Zimmerman.
Copyright © 1999-2016 Lawrence H. Conklin, Mineralogist