Construction crews in New York shut down a street in the Flatiron district yesterday after accidentally digging up a bomb. But they soon discovered that this bomb wasn’t filled with explosives. Surprisingly, the strange, metal artifact was filled with paper letters and photos. Yes, this bomb was actually a time capsule, originally buried in the 1980s.
The bomb squad was called out and crews shut down 21st Street, in between 5th and 6th Avenues. Some people even posted photos and video of the bomb to social media before they knew what it was.
One Twitter user proclaimed that the NYPD “literally found a bomb on 21st Street.”
But after examining the object, NYPD discovered that the inactive bomb was filled with letters and photos from 1985, buried by the owners of the legendary (and now closed) Danceteria nightclub. The building is now office space, but construction crews were doing work to convert the space yet again into apartments.
The Danceteria, open from 1979 until 1986, is perhaps most famous for Madonna’s club scene in the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan.
The NYPD called John Argento, the old owner of the club, and asked him what the deal was. He explained that they had purchased the bomb from an Army Surplus store and hung it inside the club for years before deciding to turn it into a time capsule. Argento and his partner had encouraged clubgoers and musicians to fill the capsule with mementos, to be opened in 10,000 years.
“It was a great excuse to have two great parties,” Argento told New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer blog. “We can have a party when we will fill it, and we can have a second party when we solemnly lower it into the ground.”
A third party to open it up wasn’t to be, of course. The old time capsule didn’t make it 10,000 years into the future, let alone thirty. Everything inside the time capsule, which was buried underneath a parking lot, has reportedly been destroyed by water damage, though Argento won’t know for certain that all is lost until the city gives him possession of the capsule. The NYPD is holding on to it for a few more days so that a proper search can be conducted of the item.
It turns out that old Looney Tunes-style bombs don’t make the best time capsules, if you want the items inside to stick around for very long. If you really want your time capsule to see the future, you should probably get your advice from experts, like the good folks at the Smithsonian, who have tips and tricks for preservation.
As we’ve said many times here at Paleofuture, burying things in the ground is quite literally the worst possible way to preserve things for the future. But we’ll keep doing it. Because we never learn.