In 1950, Mayor William O'Dwyer, along with his transit chief and the Brooklyn borough president, buried a time capsule beneath what was then the headquarters for the Board of Transportation.
"I'm as curious as everyone to see what history has left for us," New York City Transit President Carmen Bianco said Wednesday before a cornerstone at 370 Jay St. was lifted to expose a time capsule at an event hosted by the Transit Museum. "If there's some additional funding in there for the MTA that would really be a great thing."
But the capsule unearthed Wednesday after 64 years had no transit nostalgia, surviving equipment or documents to offer insight into the transit system of the 1940s or a message to transit riders of the future.
Instead, the lead capsule fell victim to water and time, containing a muddy, rusty slurry, newspaper, a nickel and a glass box encasing microfilm whose contents are likely lost to history, according to the conservator, Tonya Dubin of Hudson Archival.
The microfilm was believed to contain the conception drawings for 370 Jay St. that would have aided NYU during renovations of the city-owned 500,000 square-foot building into an academic hub.
Despite the ho-hum history lesson, Bianco said the event made him think of the challenges past transit officials had to face. He even entertained the idea of getting the MTA to make a new time capsule "to preserve some of the history we're starting today."
"We will protect it from water and mud a little bit better," Bianco said.