The oyster was a daily reminder to New Yorkers that they lived on a bustling, productive estuary. But oysters were subsequently wiped out by pollution, dredging, disease, and over-consumption in the early 20th century. In Boston, the oysters in the Charles River Basin came to an end in the late 1800's. There was oyster harvesting continuing in the Mystic well into the 20th century.
More recently, however, thanks to a movement of environmentalists, educators, historians, and locavores, New Yorkers are beginning to reconnect to their water-bound past, and the symbol of this reconnection is the eastern oyster.
In 2003, the New York Harbor School opened as the city's first public high school with a curriculum focused exclusively on the local marine environment. With dozens of partners, the Harbor School has made the restoration of the local oyster population to self-sustaining levels the centerpiece of its unique marine science and technology curriculum.