Sandy Hook, New Jersey
If the story is to be told of New York in 10 Objects, it must include the American Oyster (Crassoatrea virginica). Nothing can truly describe the history of New York better. Oysters were an important part of the New World economy since the time of the Native American Indians. New York oysters, such as Blue Point and Little Rocks, were a gastronomic delight enjoyed in the Five Points slums as well at Manhattan’s poshest dinning halls. The oyster shells provided the lime for the cement that built New York. Oyster shells also were used to make the roads and were used as money by the Native Americans. The Dutch traded with the Indians using counterfeited wampum made by inmates in the over crowded jails. Although the oyster beds of long ago are now lost to overharvest, pollution, and habitat loss, there is now an environmental movement to reestablish the oyster beds in an attempt to clean up the waters of the New York/New Jersey estuaries.