It’s October 4, 2011 – a routine Tuesday for some construction workers clearing a vacant lot in the Elmhurst district of Queens, New York. Then, suddenly, the back-hoe operator hits something solid. It sounds like iron – probably a pipe. But as the driver raises the arm of his machine, this humdrum Tuesday is transformed into a morbidly memorable day.
Way back when, the Queens neighborhood of Elmhurst was originally a village called Middenburgh that had been established by Dutch settlers in 1652. Middenburgh was a suburb of New Amsterdam, as the settlement was then called. But then the British came along in 1664 and renamed the Middenburgh district New Town, which in time became Newtown.
One contribution that Newtown made to America was an apple – the Newtown Pippin. The fruit is said to have grown from a random seedling sometime around 1700 on land owned by an Englishman called Gershom Moore. And in its day the apple was highly popular – although it has since become overshadowed by modern varieties.