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Natalia E. Lee Soy

An Evolution of New York City Quarries: Why Some Stones Worked and Others Did Not

           Manhattan schist, Fordham gneiss, and Inwood marble are known collectively as the New York City Group.  Together these stone formations serve as the bedrock of New York City.  Fordham gneiss is named for the many outcroppings once found in the Fordham section of the Bronx and in parts of Manhattan.  This gneiss is a foliated rock with alternating light-to-dark gray to black bands.  It is considered the oldest formation in the group.  Inwood marble, found in different varieties, was quarried extensively in Westchester County, New York.  The Inwood marble is composed primarily of the mineral dolomite.  This formation is the second oldest in the group.  The youngest of the three formations, Manhattan Schist, is composed primarily of mica schist.  This mica allows the Manhattan Schist to be a well-foliated rock with thin alternating bands of black and light gray.  All of these stones were, and can still be seen today, in various outcroppings in upper Manhattan and in the western portion of the Bronx.  Though these stones were quarried extensively during the early history of New York, relatively little research has been conducted on these stones as building materials.  Not much documentation remains identifying the quarries or the structures built of these materials.

            This thesis has two major sections.  The first is an examination of quarries in New York City and Lower Westchester.  The second section will focus on case studies.

            The first section will identify some of the quarries that produced these various stones.  Though these kinds of stone were a big part of the geography of this area, the documentation of quarries and what structures they created is not readily accessible.  The research in this section will include where quarries were located and from what time period they were in existence and what stones were quarried there. 

         The case studies will provide a look at some of the structures that are still standing built of these stones.  It will include a look at the history of how these stones were used.  It will also provide insight to why these stones were used and for how long.  Part of the research will be to understand why this stone use as a building stone was initially popular but eventually phased out.

           Natalia E. Lee Soy received her BA with a major in Biology from Manhattanville Collage in Purchase, NY in 1999.  Prior to attending SAIC, she worked as a Research Analyst for Catalyst, a non profit research advisory service organization.  At SAIC, she participated in the study trip to China, she interned for the Midwest Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and, currently, she interns with the National Parks Service.


Thesis Advisor: Anne Sullivan

Thesis Reader: Charlie Pipal, Instructor, Historic Preservation

Second Reader: Mark Ingleski




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