The Dutch initially used this area a communal pasture ground for livestock since it was midway between their settlement at the tip of the island and the fresh water source, Collect Pond. The park`s western boundary was a Lenape trail that later became Broadway but has always been New York's main street. An almshouse for the City`s poor stood on this site from 1736 to 1797, at which point a second almshouse was built; archaeological evidence of the first structure was unearthed in 1989. Next to it were prisons and soldier's barracks. This is the site of the Liberty Poles, Stamp Act Protests, and where Washington had the Declaration of Independence read to his troops on July 9, 1776.