Bowling Green Fence

There is a fence in lower Manhattan that I absolutely adore- I tell people about this thing all the time. First of all, it's 230 years old- one of the older things you're going to see in Manhattan. It was put up in 1771 around a statue of King George that stood in the middle of the green. It had these little decorative crowns on the posts to symbolize the monarchy.
OK, so it's July 1776. George Washington and his army have come down from Boston and occupied New York- thousands of American soldiers are milling around the city. Meanwhile, a massive British armada is gathering just across the harbor in Staten Island- if you walked just south of the Bowling Green and looked across the harbor you probably could have seen some of the ships.
On July 4th, the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, and a few days later it was read aloud in City Hall Park. People were ecstatic. To celebrate, a bunch of guys decided to tear down the statue of the king a few blocks away. After they did that, they melted it down and turned it into musket and cannon balls- what amazing symbolism. They also sawed the little crowns off the top of the fence- and this is my favorite part- those saw marks are still there. Feel around the top of the posts. The top of each one is clipped at an angle- the same angle at which those guys held their saws all those years ago. It's an incredible index of a moment in time.
Very soon after, thousands of British and Hessian soldiers came tearing through Brooklyn and into Manhattan, eventually going right past my house (then unbuilt) in Harlem. They devastated the American army and sent them running up north. The next battle took place at White Plains, NY, where my ancestors, Joshua and Caleb Briggs, fired a few shots- Caleb is my namesake.


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