Tyger (ship)

Last updated
Fate: Burned November 1613
General characteristics
Length: 80 ft (24 m) [1]
Crew: 18 men [1]
Armament: 6 or 8 1,500/1,600-pound cannons [1]

Tyger [2] (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈtɛiɣər] ; English: Tiger) was the ship used by the Dutch captain Adriaen Block during his 1613 voyage to explore the East Coast of North America and the present day Hudson River. Its remains were uncovered in 1916 during the construction of the New York City Subway on land that is now part of the World Trade Center complex.

Adriaen Block Dutch explorer

Adriaen (Aerjan) Block was a Dutch private trader, privateer, and ship's captain who is best known for exploring the coastal and river valley areas between present-day New Jersey and Massachusetts during four voyages from 1611 to 1614, following the 1609 expedition by Henry Hudson. He is noted for possibly having named Block Island, Rhode Island, and establishing early trade with the Native Americans, and for the 1614 map of his last voyage on which many features of the mid-Atlantic region appear for the first time, and on which the term New Netherland is first applied to the region. He is credited with being the first European to enter Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River, and to determine that Manhattan and Long Island are islands.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere; it is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

Hudson River river in New York State, draining into the Atlantic at New York City

The Hudson River is a 315-mile (507 km) river that flows from north to south primarily through eastern New York in the United States. The river originates in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York, flows southward through the Hudson Valley to the Upper New York Bay between New York City and Jersey City. It eventually drains into the Atlantic Ocean at New York Harbor. The river serves as a political boundary between the states of New Jersey and New York at its southern end. Further north, it marks local boundaries between several New York counties. The lower half of the river is a tidal estuary, deeper than the body of water into which it flows, occupying the Hudson Fjord, an inlet which formed during the most recent period of North American glaciation, estimated at 26,000 to 13,300 years ago. Tidal waters influence the Hudson's flow from as far north as the city of Troy.



In late summer of 1613, Tyger had moored in Lower Manhattan on the Hudson to trade with the Lenape Indians along with its partner Hendrick Christiaensen's Fortuyn. By November, Tyger had been filled with pelts of beaver, otter, and other skins obtained in barter.

Lower Manhattan Central business district in New York, United States

Lower Manhattan, also known as Downtown Manhattan or Downtown New York, is the southernmost part of Manhattan, the central borough for business, culture, and government in the City of New York, which itself originated at the southern tip of Manhattan Island in 1624, at a point which now constitutes the present-day Financial District. The population of the Financial District alone has grown to an estimated 61,000 residents as of 2018, up from 43,000 as of 2014, which in turn was nearly double the 23,000 recorded at the 2000 Census.

Lenape indigenous people originally from Lenapehoking, now the Mid-Atlantic United States

The Lenape, also called the Leni Lenape, Lenni Lenape and Delaware people, are an indigenous people of the Northeastern Woodlands, who live in Canada and the United States. Their historical territory included present-day New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania along the Delaware River watershed, New York City, western Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley. Today, Lenape people belong to the Delaware Nation and Delaware Tribe of Indians in Oklahoma; the Stockbridge-Munsee Community in Wisconsin; and the Munsee-Delaware Nation, Moravian of the Thames First Nation, and Delaware of Six Nations in Ontario.

Hendrick Christiaensen was a Dutch explorer who was involved in the earlier exploration of what became the colony of New Netherland.

In November, an accidental fire broke out and Tyger rapidly burned to the waterline. [3] The charred hull was beached and all but the small section of prow and keel salvaged in 1916 (q.v.) remained in that location, buried beneath what later became the intersection of Greenwich and Dey Streets in Lower Manhattan. During the fire, the crew salvaged some sails, rope, tools and fittings.

Over the winter, Block and his men presumably with help from the Indians built Onrust (Restless), which they used to explore the East River and Long Island Sound before returning to Europe in 1614.


The Onrust was a Dutch ship built by Adriaen Block and the crew of the Tyger, which had been destroyed by fire in the winter of 1613. The Onrust was modeled on a Dutch yacht, and was the first ship to be built in what is now New York State, and the first fur trading vessel built in America. The construction took four months in the winter of 1614 somewhere in New York Bay. Help from the local Native population is surmised based on the relationship developed by Jon Rodriquez, left on the island during a previous voyage. The Onrust was 44.5 feet long and capable of carrying 16 tons.

East River Navigable tidal strait in New York City connecting New York Bay, the Harlem River, and the Long Island Sound

The East River is a salt water tidal estuary in New York City. The waterway, which is actually not a river despite its name, connects Upper New York Bay on its south end to Long Island Sound on its north end. It separates the borough of Queens on Long Island from the Bronx on the North American mainland, and also divides Manhattan from Queens and Brooklyn, which are also on Long Island. Because of its connection to Long Island Sound, it was once also known as the Sound River. The tidal strait changes its direction of flow frequently, and is subject to strong fluctuations in its current, which are accentuated by its narrowness and variety of depths. The waterway is navigable for its entire length of 16 miles (26 km), and was historically the center of maritime activities in the city, although that is no longer the case.

Long Island Sound A tidal estuary on the east coast of the United States

Long Island Sound is a tidal estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, lying between the eastern shores of The Bronx, New York City, southern Westchester County, and Connecticut to the north, and the North Shore of Long Island, to the south. From west to east, the sound stretches 110 miles (177 km) from the East River in New York City, along the North Shore of Long Island, to Block Island Sound. A mix of freshwater from tributaries and saltwater from the ocean, Long Island Sound is 21 miles (34 km) at its widest point and varies in depth from 65 to 230 feet.


In 1916, workmen led by James A. Kelly uncovered the prow and keel of Tyger while excavating an extension for the New York City Subway BMT Broadway Line near the intersection of Greenwich and Dey Streets. The ship and some related artifacts were discovered by Kelly's crew at a depth of about 20 feet (6.1 m) below the street right where it had been beached on the shoreline of Manhattan Island at the time of the ship's burning. [4] Over a period of 150 years after the vessel had been beached, approximately 11 feet (3.4 m) of silt accumulated and, in 1763, a waterfront fill-in project added another 8 to 9 feet (2.4 to 2.7 m).

The BMT Broadway Line is a rapid transit line of the B Division of the New York City Subway in Manhattan, New York City, United States. As of November 2016, it is served by four services, all colored yellow: the N and ​Q trains on the express tracks and the R and ​W trains on the local tracks during weekdays. The line is often referred to as the "N and R", since those were the only services on the line from 1988 to 2001, when the Manhattan Bridge's southern tracks were closed for rebuilding. The Broadway Line was built to give the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company access to Midtown Manhattan.

Although the excavation crew was under great pressure to keep the pace of work on schedule, Kelly persuaded his supervisors to allow sufficient excavation to remove about 8 12 feet (2.6 m) of prow and keel with three of the hull's ribs. [5] The timbers were placed in the seal tank of the New York Aquarium in Battery Park. In 1943, they were presented to the Museum of the City of New York for exhibition in the Marine Gallery. [6]

New York Aquarium Aquarium in Coney Island, New York City

The New York Aquarium is the oldest continually operating aquarium in the United States, having opened in Castle Garden in Battery Park, Manhattan in 1896. Since 1957, it has been located on the boardwalk in Coney Island, Brooklyn. The aquarium is operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) as part of its integrated system of four zoos and one aquarium, most notably the Bronx Zoo. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Museum of the City of New York museum in Manhattan, New York City

The Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) is a history and art museum in Manhattan, New York City, New York. It was founded by Henry Collins Brown, in 1923 to preserve and present the history of New York City, and its people. It is located at 1220–1227 Fifth Avenue between East 103rd to 104th Streets, across from Central Park in Manhattan's Upper East Side, at the northern end of the Museum Mile section of Fifth Avenue.

The remainder of the ship may still rest approximately 20 feet (6.1 m) below ground, due east of the former site of the North Tower of the World Trade Center; however, it might have been dug up in the process of building the World Trade Center. Also, Tyger appears not to have been the only ship wrecked on the World Trade Center site. [7] [8]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 Christopher L. Hallowell, "Disappearance of the Historic Ship Tijger", Natural History Magazine , 1974. Retrieved on 31 July 2014.
  2. Also written Tiger, Tijger, and Tyjger.
  3. "Onrust and the Voyages of Captain Adriaen Block", Onrust.org
  4. "Fragment from the Dutch ship 'Tyger'", Luce Center, New York Historical Society
  5. Kelly, James A. Personal relation to his grandson John L. Kelly.[ non-primary source needed ]
  6. Williamson, W.M. (1959). Adrian Block: Navigator, Fur Trader, Explorer, New York's First Shipbuilder, 1611–14. New York: Marine Museum of the City of New York, Museum of the City of New York.
  7. Hallowell, Christopher L. (August–September 1974). "Disappearance of the Historic Ship Tijger". Natural History : 2.
  8. Dunlap, David W. (14 July 2010). "18th Century Ship Found at Trade Center Site". City Room blog. The New York Times .