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Unearthing The American Revolution on Clove Road?

Clove1This Summer, Clove Road is going to be an archaeological site. The Daily News reported this morning that the efforts of historians of the American Revolution has led to funding to dig up Clove Road in the hopes of finding war-era artifacts.

Clove Road is a short spur in Crown Heights, running North from Empire Boulevard between Nostrand and New York to Montgomery Street, with its only other intersection at the tiny, vestigial Malbone Street (gmap).

According to the Daily News, Letitia James obtained $200,000 to fund the project after a private report found that:

800 American soldiers guarded the road - then known as the Bedford Pass - in August 1776 before retreating from advancing British forces.

Even though evidence was thin that important archeological objects would be found, the report concluded the dig should go forward because it "would enhance our understanding of American defenses in Brooklyn" and "provide a glimpse" of how camp life was for the troops.

I hope the dig doesn't inconvenience the residents of Clove Road too much - and that the dig doesn't destroy the remaining cobblestones. In fact, it would be great if the result of the dig is to restore the cobblestone path - but I don't expect that to happen. Local architect Michael Cetera is noted in the article for proposing that the street be turned into a park or a pedestrian path. Since I can't imagine it gets much vehicular traffic, I think that is a great (if also unlikely) idea.

Image via Forgotten NY's excellent article on the alleys of Brooklyn (including Clove Rd, Malbone Street and the Miami, Palm and Tampa Courts).



This is good news but also old news. Mike Cetera, Chair of CB9's Land Use Committee has been pushing this for years. In fact, here's a slightly more detailed version of the facts which Pearl Miles (CB 9 District Manager) reported at the CB9 monthly meeting on 9/23/08 -- nearly 2 years ago:
District Manager's Report:

1. District Manager Pearl Miles stated that about twelve years ago we stumbled upon the fact that Clove Road located right across the street from the school, was the Bedford Pass of the Battle of Brooklyn/The American Revolution. This period was a very important to the history of this nation. The board has been trying to get historic designation for Clove Road and to have it reconstructed in keeping with the hoped for landmarked status. The ULURP and 197-a Committee chairperson, Michael Cetera, did some preliminary research on Clove Road where he found maps that showed the significance of that street.

We have been working with the Dept of Transportation which commissioned an archaeological study of the location that concluded that there is reason to believe that Clove Road is the Bedford Pass of the American Revolution. The study also found that outside of that Clove Road also deserved historic designation because it is the only remaining road that led to original institutions in Brooklyn like the Alms House. The next step is to conduct an archaeological dig.

We first worked with the late Councilmember James E. Davis on this matter, and then his successor Councilmember Letitia James. The district manager said that she was pleased to report that Councilmember James has allocated $200,000 for the dig. Ms. Miles thanked the councilmember for her funding allocation to the district and asked the audience to say thank you to the councilmember. The news was responded to with loud applause.

BTW, notwithstanding the potential quality-of-life concerns for the Clove Road residents while the dig is in progress (which are understandable), there's organized community and political support for this project that is substantial, well-established and ongoing. Just last month, CB9 held a special community meeting to brainstorm plans for what to do about Clove Road after the dig is concluded. The idea that a park or pedestrian path will be installed as a further way to "landmark" Clove Road is not only a great idea but also one that is not unlikely at all.

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