How did New York become the oyster capital of the world?

For a few generations, at least!

ONE MILLION: That's the number of oysters New Yorkers ate every day during the mollusc heyday in the 19th century. That's a pretty mind-boggling amount of bivalves, but the numbers add up once you delve into New York's long and successful history with this particular seashell.

Archaeologists have discovered ramparts in the New York harbor area, ancient shell piles dating from 6950 BC. JC.

Oysters have thrived for millennia in the brackish waters around New York Harbor, keeping the estuary clean with their natural filtration capabilities. When Henry Hudson arrived in 1609, there were oyster reefs in what is now the New York metropolitan area. European settlers wereted no time in turning this natural resource into a powerful industry.

In the 18th century, immigrants to what was then known as New Amsterdam respectively called the Ellis Islands and Liberty 'Little Oyster Island' and 'Great Oyster Island'.

"The world's best oysters in what had become unmistakably the world's largest port made New York City, for an entire century, the oyster capital of the world.

Millions of oyster shells were produced by New Yorkers during these years of heavy consumption. These shells were even used to pave roads, and were also used during the construction of the spire of Trinity Church in New York.

It didn't take long for New Yorkers to associate their love of oysters with their love of beer; the mollusc has become a common snack in the taverns and salons of the city. Unfortunately, while New Yorkers loved to eat and sell oysters, they didn't do it in such a sustainable way. Overexploitation, town expansion and a lack of waste management have all contributed to the depletion of the region's once abundant oyster beds.

In 1927, the last of New's oyster beds York was officially closed. New York oysters had become too polluted to eat.

The passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 helped a little, but New York still has a way to go before urban oysters are safe again. In 2014, a project called the Billion Oyster Project was launched with the long-term goal of adding a billion live oysters to New York Harbor to repair its ecosystem by 2035.

Given that a single oyster can filter 100 to 400 liters of water per day, There is still hope that New York City will regain its well-deserved reputation as the oyster capital of the world.