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May-June 2009

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The Minerals of New York City



The landscape of New York City (NYC) was arguably the most exposed and excavated area in the United States, possibly matched only by that of Philadelphia. Bedrock was exposed by basement excavations of buildings to 30 meters deep, cut-and-cover trenches passing through bedrock for subway lines, and the underground railroad, sewer, water, and steam tunnels that crisscross the city. To cite one example, the 1903–1913 excavation for the New York Central railroad yards under what is now Park Avenue north of Grand Central Station produced 3 million cubic yards of excavated rock. During these projects local residents interested in minerals have managed to make many mineral discoveries. Often the workers themselves were the ones that set aside a unique mineral occurrence.
John H. Betts is a full-time mineral dealer who has lived in New York City for the past twenty-seven years.


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