Eric’s Rare Stones
NYC Mayor Eric Adams believes the city sits atop a trove of stones that exude a special energy. He's...not wrong?
12:53 PM EDT on May 27, 2022
Eric Adams seems to be very into achieving firsts as mayor of New York: first mayor to be paid in cryptocurrency, first mayor to contract COVID-19, first mayor to definitively prove to the public that he absolutely does not live in New Jersey.
He’s also, as far as I can find, NYC’s first Crystals Guy mayor.
Adams’s enthusiasm for crystals and the metaphysical were most notably mentioned in a March 2022 Politico profile, which included the fun fact that at some point Adams “learned that New York sits on a store of rare gems and stones, and believes that as a result, ‘there’s a special energy that comes from here.’” Politico also mentioned that the mayor regularly wears energy stone bracelets, which was also cited in a New York Times story focusing on the then mayor-elect’s fashion choices.
Being a Crystals Guy is far from the weirdest thing about Eric Adams, and it’s maybe not the most politically consequential weird thing about him. But as somewhat of a Crystals Guy myself, I wanted to know more. I’d heard New York’s geology was special, but what made it special? And was it special-energy special? Moreover, what could that special energy tell us about Adams’s approach to governing? Does Adams wear locally sourced crystals on his bracelets? I had questions.
As an opening move, I sent a list of stones previously discovered in Manhattan bedrock to Vanessa Knight, the Brooklyn-based owner of Able Ground Crystals, and asked her about the stones’ characteristics and potential impacts on the city and the mayor. One might see some of Adams’s political persona in malachite, a stone that per Knight “is one of the strongest protection stones in the mineral kingdom and can easily absorb negative energies and pollutants.” Being mayor of New York basically means being the person that everyone in New York hates, so this stone might be really useful for Adams.
Similarly, quartz (“The mother of the entire mineral kingdom and potentially one of the most powerful healing tools and energy amplifiers on the planet”) likely has some appeal—what politician isn’t seeking amplification?
Perhaps the most charged (sorry) stone was kyanite, which Knight described as a “fascinating mineral to be underneath Manhattan” given that it’s “known to inspire fair treatment of others and can help in working through disagreements and disputes.” While arguing is certainly a beloved local pastime, in a period of rising rents and crackdowns on the unhoused it’s hard to see fair treatment of others as a top concern in Eric Adams’s New York.
However, Knight cautioned against my impulse to interpret the stones relative to political actions. “I don't think that we can equate morals with crystals,” she wrote via email. “Crystals are energy and energy doesn't concern itself with morality—in my opinion. The same quantity of energy can be used to have a negative impact or a positive impact. If a crystal is said to open up the throat chakra and allow the user to speak their truth, that truthful communication could be loving and uniting or it could be harmful and violent.”
While I initially couldn’t see any connections between Adams and stibnite (“connects the heart chakra to the upper chakras, bringing love into all that we do but in terms of this stone especially into our creative expression”), that kind of energy could be used to describe his call to teach NYPD officers how to meditate—certainly a creative suggestion, if not actually addressing the underlying systemic issues at hand.
Ultimately, I suspect Adams’ approach to harnessing crystal energy is, like some of his other New Age-y accouterments, more focused on self-improvement and capitalist interpretations of “manifesting” than it is on mutualism, equality, or solidarity. This isn’t a new phenomenon relative to crystals (see the 2017 story about finance bros getting into them) or faith systems more generally (comparing the crystals mayor to prosperity gospel may seem weird, but just go with me here). But the thing is, New York city’s rocks are special—and seeing them as more than some token used to gain power over others really misses out on what makes them special.
Shruti Philips, who teaches geology at Hunter College, was kind enough to talk through some of the city’s billion-year-old history with me, and the delight she took in that history was palpable. When asked to tell the history of the city’s rocks, she began by asking me, “So have you heard of the supercontinent Pangea?” (Fordham gneiss, one of the bedrock formations underlying New York, actually formed before Pangea, but just a reminder that New York City, like everything else, was once part of Pangea how weird).
To tell the story of the city through Manhattan schist and Brooklyn and Queens’ terminal moraine is to tell the story of a planet so much more interconnected than we realize. For example, Philips explained a section of what was once part of the Palisades Sill exists in Morocco, “because that part of North Africa was tucked into New York when Pangea formed. And when it split up it took part of the province with it!”
Philips regularly takes students to see the Manhattan schist outcroppings in Central Park, one of many places in the city where people can have a hands-on encounter with the deep time of New York. In Pangea days, Manhattan schist was deep in the core of massive mountain formations. When the supercontinent broke up, Philips explained, those mountains eroded and today, “they’ve eroded to the point that the core of the mountain is visible.” That erosion (and a glacier, but that’s a whole other story) is part of the reason you don’t have to dig too deep to hit bedrock in parts of Manhattan—and while urban historians argue that attributing bedrock depth to the development of the city skyline is apocryphal at best, it is true that bedrock is crucial to engineering skyscrapers.
Like Manhattan itself, Manhattan schist arguably takes up a lot of the limelight to the detriment of outer-borough bedrock—Brooklyn and Queens’ terrain was shaped by Ice Age glaciers! Staten Island is a totally different rock formation from the mostly-overlapping bedrocks of the other four boroughs!—but Philips is right that it’s absolutely incredible to think about the pressure that folded sediment and clay into the massive metamorphic rock formations of the island. “I mean, how do you even fold a rock?” How, indeed.
While Philips was diplomatic on the question of the special energies—“it’s not something I’ve really dwelled on,” she told me—she did agree that the geologic perspective does reveal something special. “It gives you a sense of time, and also wonder. It’s so endlessly fascinating. It’s so comforting to see the big picture, you know?”
Perhaps rather than use the gems and stones of New York and whatever energies they may or may not hold for shallow personal gain, there is more to be found in viewing them—and ourselves—as part of the bigger picture. Maybe that’s something Adams does when he admires his energy crystal bracelets (no answer from the mayor’s press office on whether they’re locally sourced). But, like all of us, maybe he’d benefit from a more grounded (sorry) geologic perspective.
Ingrid Burrington is the author of Networks of New York: An Illustrated Field Guide to Urban Internet Infrastructure. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner and a German Shepherd.
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