A History of New York City in 50 Objects

Today, the New York Times highlights a history of New York City in 50 objects. The objects range from extravagant to mundane.

  1. Mastodon Tusk, About 11,000 B.C.
  2. Munsee Arrowhead, Pre-1700
  3. The Schaghenbrief, 1626
  4. The Flushing Remonstrance, 1657
  5. Painting of New Amsterdam, 1665
  6. The Oyster, Late 1600s
  7. English-Dutch Dictionary, 1730
  8. Beads From the African Burial Ground, 1700s
  9. A Horse’s Tail, 1776
  10. Washington’s Balcony, 1789
  11. Wooden Water Pipes, About 1800
  12. Randel’s Map, 1811
  13. Lake Erie Keg, 1825
  14. Singer Sewing Machine, 1851
  15. Patent for Otis Elevator Brake, 1861
  16. The Lefferts’ Cookbook, 1800s
  17. Checks of Boss Tweed, 1866-1870
  18. Edison’s Dynamo, 1882
  19. Brooklyn Bridge Toll Ticket, About 1883-1898
  20. Manuscript of ‘The New Colossus,’ 1883
  21. Sculpture of the 1898 Consolidation
  22. Child’s Shoes From the General Slocum, 1904
  23. Tiffany Subway Throttle, 1904
  24. Battle’s Badge, 1911
  25. The Automat Machine, 1912
  26. The Bagel, Early 1900s
  27. 1913 Armory Show Stamp
  28. First Yankee Stadium Program, 1923
  29. Rivoli Air Conditioning Advertisement, 1925
  30. Ticker Tape, 1929
  31. The Artichoke, 1933
  32. Tree of Hope, 1934
  33. Time Capsule From 1939 World’s Fair
  34. Levittown House, 1947
  35. 1955 World Series Banner
  36. Checker Taxicab, 1952-1986
  37. Diplomatic Plates, 1960s Onward
  38. ‘Tonight Show’ Audio Track, 1962
  39. Greek Coffee Cup, 1960s
  40. Bernstein’s Baton, 1969
  41. Saturday Night Special, 1960s Onward
  42. ‘FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD’ Headline, 1975
  43. AIDS Button, 1980s
  44. Loisaida Avenue Sign, 1987
  45. The Boom Box, 1980s
  46. The Phantom’s Mask, 1988
  47. The MetroCard, 1994
  48. 9/11 Dust, 2001
  49. Mast Brothers Chocolate Bar, 2007 Onward
  50. Meng Political Sign, 2012

To learn more about the objects and their relevance to the history of Gotham, see the article: “A History of New in 50 Objects” at the New York Times.


2 thoughts on “A History of New York City in 50 Objects

  1. Jim Wheeler

    An outstanding link to history, Jennifer! This is the same kind of classy online access to facts that the Smithsonian is achieving with its online product. I only wish that all history classes could access this kind of material because the objects make the subject real.

    One item that caught my eye as I browsed down was the automat. Fresh food in windows, accessible by dropping coins in a slot! I was surprised to see that the concept debuted all the way back in 1912 because I still remember being fascinated with my first experience in one. I was a young Midshipman on a 1957 Navy cruise that stopped in NYC. It was a pure experience because unlike today’s fast food that often doesn’t resemble its slick pictures, you could see the actual product behind the glass. How nostalgic!

  2. norm

    Wooden water pipes: I saw a wooden gas line pulled out in Cleveland not long ago.The funny thing , was that the pipe was leaking on the metal part that was connected to the wood part. The wood pipe was holding 25lbs, no problem…


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