Bomb scare turns into a blast from the past in Flatiron District

FLATIRON DISTRICT, Manhattan (WABC) -- Construction workers in Manhattan unearthed what appeared to be a World War II artillery shell, but authorities now believe it was just a time capsule.

When construction workers went digging Wednesday in the Flatiron District, they didn't expect to find a vintage missile buried on 21st Street at 5th Avenue.

The NYPD's bomb squad was called in.

"In today's world, I thought it was a bomb," witness Cliff Russell said.

"People come in and they're like, 'you have to evacuate. You must leave right now, get out, you have no choice,'" witness Dakota Pentony said.

It turned out this vintage missile is actually a time capsule, and it most likely belonged to the now-shuttered "Danceteria."

It wasn't just any club.

There is video posted by Madonna on YouTube performing there:

Back then, it was where people went for the after-party's after-party.

"You would go into an elevator, they had live candles burning," Russell said. "The operator of the elevator was usually completely under the influence. Yeah, well good times, I'm still alive."

"This was a club with five floors. It was open seven nights a week for five years and there were five parties here every night, one more ridiculous than the other," former co-owner of Danceteria John Argento said.

Argento would know.

But why a time capsule inside a missile?

"It was done with humor. It was just an excuse for a couple of parties," Argento said. "It was hanging in an Army Navy store on Canal Street for years and we finally offered the guy $200 and sold it to us, and we had it hanging from the ceiling for a couple of years."

Partygoers threw in letters to the future -- Polaroids -- and who knows what else. Then they buried it in 1984, and forgot about it.

The club even posted a sign above the time capsule.

It read, "Do not open for 10,000 years."

They're going to have to settle for a little more than 30. But a lot has changed in three decades.

"We brought it back in a shopping cart. You know I mean imagine if we tried to walk the streets of Manhattan with a bomb in a shopping cart now?" Argento said.

Ironically, the time capsule was doing what it was supposed to do, having us revisit the past and make us wonder.

"It made us think what else is under all these buildings in Manhattan," Pentony said.
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