Sybil's Cave

Hoboken Cave


Useful Information

Location: Hoboken, Sinatra Drive on the property of Stevens Institute of Technology. Across of the Castle Point Park fishing pier. (40°44'42.25"N, 74°1'23.37"W)
Open: not yet [2007]
Fee: n/a [2007]
Classification:  Water Supply
Light: n/a
Dimension: L=6m, H=1.50m.
Guided tours: n/a
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography: Edgar Allan Poe (1850): The Mystery of Marie Roget
Ann Gilman Srebnick (1997): The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers Oxford University Press, 1997
Raymond Paul (1971): Who Murdered Mary Rogers? Prentice-Hall, 1971
Address: n/a
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Last update:$Date: 2015/08/30 21:59:12 $

History

 
1832Sybil's Cave was first opened as a day trippers' attraction.
28-JUL-1841body of Mary Cecilia Rogers discovered by James Boulard and Henry Mallin.
OCT-2008renovated cave opened to the public.

Description

Sybil's Cave is a sort of legend. The cave was forgotten for more than 100 years, but still there was a roumor, and many older inhabitants of Hoboken know stories of their grandparents about the cave. Located on Castle Point opposite Manhattan, this place offers a great view to Manhattan on the other side of the Hudson River. The hill was prepared as a park around 1830 and opened to the public in 1932. From this time on people had a picknick here in front of the cave arch and drank the water from the spring in the cave.

Sybil's Cave was just a 1.50m high and 20m deep hole in the green veined serpentine rock of Castle Point. It was built to reach the small spring, and then it was beautified by an archway of hand-crafted stone. The water was sold for one penny a glass, an extraordinary high price at this time, as it was said to have medical powers. It seems it had a high amout of carbon dioxide, as it is described as sparkling.

At this time, Hoboken was a country retreat for stressed, well-off New Yorkers. What now is Frank Sinatra Drive was then a River Walk. There was no road, just a tree lined trail and the Castle Point and its surrounding was covered by forest and shrubs. The cave made a sort of mysterious highlight to such a calm weekend trip. Even more after the story with Mary Cecilia Rogers had happened in 1840. On 28-JUL-1841 James Boulard and Henry Mallin were relaxing at Sybil's Cave, when they saw something floating in the water of the Hudson River. They raced to a nearby dock and borrowed a boat to retrieve the floating object, which was the body of a woman, later identified as Mary Cecilia Rogers.

Mary was a beautiful 20 year old, who ran a boarding house on Nassau Street near City Hall along with her aging mother. She left her home on the morning of 25-JUL-1841, telling her boyfriend and boarder, Donald Payne, she would be visiting her aunt uptown. Three days later she was fished out of the Hudson River at Sybil's Cave. Nassau Street was the center of the growing publishing and printing business at that time, and Mary was well known to the editors and reporters of these publications. As a result her story was published broadly and increased the popularity of Sybil's Cave. Some years later in 1850 Edgar Allan Poe published The Mystery of Marie Roget, which is also based on this case.

The ferries and private boats, which brought New York City residents across the Hudson River were the origin of the shipping trade at Hoboken. The development of the area was a result of thr growing number of visitor. The area began to flourish, the number of inhabitants grew, industry developed. As a direct result the time of Sybil's Cave ended around 1888. At this time the National Institute of Health was founded, and started to analyze food an water resources. When they discovered fecal bacteria in the water of Sybil's Cave they declared it unsuitable for drinking and concealed the cave. The entrance to the cave was concealed by earth and brushes and was fianlly forgotten. In the 1930s the cave entrance was said to be unstable and dangerous, and the entrance area was completely covered by soil. Only the legend remained.

Today the cave is rediscovered, but still it is not reconstructed. Hoboken Mayor David Roberts tried to have it reconstucted, but the cave was declared unstable by an engineer and so the reconstruction work was delayed. The plans are to create a park at the hill around the cave and reconstruct the cave entrance archway. Although the arch originally was made of rock, blocks of the stone arch have been found scattered at the site, it is planned to be reconstructed in wood.


See also


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