When Central Park Had a Dinosaur Museum

The word “dinosaur” was coined in 1840, and it wasn’t long before the general public was fascinated by the extinct creatures. This popularity was mainly the work of Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, an artist and naturalist who sculpted dinosaurs for the Crystal Palace dinosaur display in London in 1851. In 1868, Hawkins was commissioned to make more dinosaurs for the proposed Paleozoic Museum in New York City. Hawkins set up a workshop in new York and went to work, which included new research from Drexel University on the latest fossil discoveries.

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But before the Paleozoic Museum was ready for the public, political reorganization led to a new board of directors for Central Park. Hawkins was fired, and was never paid for the work he had done. Then in 1871, an order went out for the “old barn, shed, and structures at that place” (meaning Central Park) to be removed. Instead of just being removed, Hawkins’ workshop was destroyed, along with all his dinosaur models, smashed to smithereens. The remains were reportedly either buried or dumped into the pond at the park. For 150 years, the destruction of the dinosaur models was blamed on Boss Tweed, the corrupt politician who controlled New York City. At least that’s you’d think by reading the sensational newspaper stories of the time. But it wasn’t Tweed who gave the orders to get rid of the museum. Read the real story of the short-lived Paleozoic Museum at Atlas Obscura.  -via Strange Company

Source: neatorama

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