Century-old time capsules opened in New York City, Boston

Representatives from the Bostonian Society talk to the media after opening a 113-year-old time capsule, which was found inside a lion statue, at Skylight Studios in Woburn, Massachusetts, October 9, 2014.  [Reuters]


Representatives from the Bostonian Society talk to the media after opening a 113-year-old time capsule, which was found inside a lion statue, at Skylight Studios in Woburn, Massachusetts, October 9, 2014. [Reuters]

A fun coincidence of history: In Boston and New York this week, two unrelated openings of time capsules left by people 113 and 100 years ago, respectively. They are two of the country's oldest time capsules.

In NYC on Wednesday, The New York Historical Society opened a time capsule created in 1914 by Wall Street businessmen celebrating New York as a center of commerce. Spectators gathered around the bronze box as 26 screws holding the lid down were carefully unscrewed by people wearing surgical gloves. Mashable has a nice photo gallery with images from the opening ceremony.

Photo: Mashable


Inside the NYC time capsule opened on October 8. Photo: Mashable

From CBS New York:

One historian said the time capsule, created by the Lower Wall Street Business Men’s Association, was a way for the captains of industry to celebrate themselves and solidify their place in history as merchants, philanthropists and descendants of revolutionaries.

“They sealed it down on Wall Street, at the foot of Wall Street, in 1914, and then they entrusted into the New York Historical Society,” said Nick Yablon, an american history professor and time capsule expert. “And it’s remained indoors, unlike some, which are buried underneath statues or under the ground.”

The time capsule was supposed to be opened in 1974, but it was forgotten in a storage site until the late 1990s. Since they had already missed the date, historians waited until the 100th year to open it.

As WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported, when the top came off the box at the New York Historical Society, the musty scent of century-old paper filled the air. Inside were perfectly preserved books and newspapers, medals and a telegram from Gov. Martin Glynn, which read, “May every problem which now engages the attention of New York have found a solution.”

“This may be one of those time capsules where they didn’t allow everyone to throw in their own personal souvenirs,” Yablon said.
One document is thought to be a copy of an important pre-Revolutionary War letter from 1774.

Paired with the opening event, some young student historians who intern with the New-York Historical Society created a time capsule from 2014 meant to be opened in 2114--if the humans alive a hundred years from now remember to open it. And if the world doesn't explode or melt before then.

The New York Observer today called the century-old time capsule's contents "underwhelming," which says rather a lot about the New York Observer.

Representatives from the Bostonian Society talk to the media after opening a 113-year-old time capsule, which was found inside a lion statue, at Skylight Studios in Woburn, Massachusetts, October 9, 2014. [Reuters]


Representatives from the Bostonian Society talk to the media after opening a 113-year-old time capsule, which was found inside a lion statue, at Skylight Studios in Woburn, Massachusetts, October 9, 2014. [Reuters]

And in Boston, a similar but unrelated event: historians opened a time capsule created in 1901 and sealed in the golden lion statue atop Boston’s Old State House. When they took off the top of the box, a red hardcover book was visible.

“But to the disappointment of the assembled onlookers, that’s all they got to see,” reports the Boston Globe. ”The society said it would not immediately unpack the contents of the capsule,” because they were so tightly packed.

The contents of a 113-year-old time capsule, found inside a lion statue, are seen at Skylight Studios in Woburn, Massachusetts, October 9, 2014.  [REUTERS]


The contents of a 113-year-old time capsule, found inside a lion statue, are seen at Skylight Studios in Woburn, Massachusetts, October 9, 2014. [Reuters]