As a (huge) New York history dork, I was super excited to see this interactive history of the city, through 50 objects, in the New York Times this morning. Inspired by “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” the British Museum’s BBC radio series and book — also awesome — the Times recruited historians and museum curators to identify 50 objects that could embody the narrative of New York. From oysters and metrocards to bagels and mastodon tusks, it goes deep. Check it out.
Category: New York
It’s no secret that I love New York. However, this city is just so damn big that it’ll take me years to see all of it (if ever!). I really enjoy poking around the city’s storied past, and there’s no more amazing location than New York’s Financial District, also known as the “Canyon of Heroes.” Home to ticker tape parades, decadent sky scrapers and lots of dudes in power suits, the area is so much more than a 9/11 or Occupy Wall Street tourist destination (which is why most seem to seek it out, but to each their own).
For me, the Financial District is a direct link to New York’s gritty / glam history. Gorgeous, Art Nouveau wonders like the Woolworth Building (I’m a bit obsessed with the man), Trinity Church, the teeny tiny side streets…it really inspires a sense of wonder, and the streets really do feel a bit like valleys in between those massive buildings.
Walking the oldest byways of the city — Maiden Lane, Broadway, Pine — it’s crazy to imagine how many have come before us. And now you can experience a bit of a time machine with large, beautiful portraits at NYC Past, my new favorite tumblr. So many hats! And to think I just walked down Wall Street, past the larger-than-life George Washington statue last week. Insanity.
And it’s not just the Financial District. Check out these actual sleep in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow (!!!). And the Flatiron Building! (Which I’m usually only near when I go to MAC or Shake Shack. Such an odd association.)
Find more huge, gorgeous pieces of history on NYC Past.
I consider New York to be my adopted city, and I revel in its long history: the wily, narrow streets of the early city, restaurant crazes that have come and gone, tight-knit communities and the existence of hot potato vendors, as seen above. (I want one!) It’s crazy to see how much things have changed (and stayed in the same) after 60 years. The gritty streets and businesses of these photos are all long gone — except for McSorley’s and Delmonico’s, of course — but I think the personality of New York is one of continuous change. (“You can’t step in same river twice” and all that.) However, I hope it’s not too much to ask that the skeleton of the city at least stay the same. I love these streets. I love these run-down, dirty buildings. No more condos, please. And more kids playing on the sidewalk.
[Via How to be a Retronaut]
Somehow, I’ve still yet to visit Dead Horse Bay. The area has been used as a facility to manufacture fertilizer from the remains of dead animals (that’s where the Dead Horse comes from), at one point produced fish oil from menhaden caught in the bay, and served as a landfill for New York City’s garbage. Such history! Getting some grime under my fingernails and digging up 100-year-old sunken bottles is my idea of a fantasy weekend.
Every time I meander through the Lower East Side I make a point to go past Freemans. They’ve mastered the concept of the “lifestyle” establishment: they’re an old fashioned barbershop, a men’s clothing atelier that makes suits to order as Freemans Sporting Club, and a taxidermy-filled “rugged clandestine American tavern” (that actually feels very Bavarian, to me), all at the end of the ancient Freeman’s Alley (yep, it’s actually down a cobble stone alley; how perfect is that?).
And I must add that the food is freaking delicious: catfish, jalapeno cheddar grits, oysters (and those are just today’s specials!), and the best cocktails you’ll ever down. I’ve yet to purchase a pantsuit or require that my neck be shaved, but if I ever feel the need, I know that I’ll hit up all available Freemans establishments. Now if they only had an old timey women’s clothing shop filled with tailored 1930s style suits and vintage high waisted Levis: then we’d be in business….
And a note: I never actually want a clean shaven men. Beards make my world go ’round! However, I do love Olive Oyl and Popeye. Enjoy “Clean Shaven Man.”