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Report: More than 400 human skeletons unearthed at Old City construction site

407 is the official tally

An aerial view of workers excavating coffins from a construction site in the Old City neighborhood in Philadelphia.
Workers excavate coffins from a construction site in the Old City neighborhood, Thursday, March 9, 2017, at 218 Arch Street.
Courtesy of Associated Press

Last March, construction at 218 Arch Street in Old City came to a startling halt when multiple coffins were unearthed at the site. It was estimated that there were potentially dozens more buried deep below.

Try hundreds.

A new, official report says that bones from 407 human skeletons from the 19th century have been found at the construction site. That includes 328 people and 79 graves, according to the Inquirer.

The report was filed by AECOM last week to Orphans Court, which has jurisdiction over abandoned graveyards.

The officially tally comes about a year after developer PMC Property Group first discovered human remains at the site, which turned out to be part of the First Baptist Church Burial Ground, established in 1707 as one of the first cemeteries in the city.

Although PMC alerted various city departments about the bones, each agency said it lacked jurisdiction in this particular matter, so construction simply continued. But construction workers kept unearthing more bones, so in March the developer called in archeological experts who started transporting the remains to Rutgers-Camden for study. Orphans Court then got involved.

After study, preservation, and potential identification, the human remains will be reinterred at Mt. Moriah Cemetery, no later than August 2020.

218 Arch Street was most recently a surface parking lot and shares the street with Little Boy’s Court, one of the oldest cobblestone streets in the city. PMC plans to build a 10-story, 180,000-square-foot apartment building with 116 residential units.