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Tell the Story of New York in 10 Objects

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February 10, 2012 05:06:17 PM
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Margaret

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UWS Manhattan

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1. The surreal John St pedestrian tunnel
(is it still there?), which was part of my initial introduction to NYC - and sure enough, I went down a rabbit hole as surreal as it was.

In retrospect, the going to heck
that happened afterward
may have been presaged
by a walk through space;
the John St. tunnel, an Alice's Garden.

2. Avant-garde Performance

3. The bronze figurines scattered around Midtown - didn't have time to check the artist's name. They are precious aesthetically, on the mark with their comment, and a humorous delight.

4. A rock in a traffic parkway in the Bronx

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2. The spirit of the avant-garde,
without which we would fall right hard,
onto reliance on those things
that, along with stagnant certitude,
pride and ego bring.

4. Because of mystery -
although it might not be seen
as what was intended;
it may be one of those things that sings, when a bell rings,
and things have been upended.

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February 10, 2012 05:03:19 PM
:

Paula

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New York City

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Water Towers

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I think water towers are very unique to the New York City Sky line and they have an interesting history. The water tower images' juxtaposition to the sky scrapers and high rises are very artistic and iconic.

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February 10, 2012 04:56:36 PM
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Rachel Wharton

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United States

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The New York slice.

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Meaning pizza. It feeds everyone on every corner of the city. Good for tourists and locals. It's classic. It can be high brow or low brow. It's delicious, when done right. It's red and white and sometimes green, depending on your pizzaiolo's use of basil. It's a balanced meal of carbs, protein and produce (if you count tomato sauce, we mean). To this day it still gives new immigrants a business to buy into. It may or may not be invented here, depending on your definition of invented. Heck, it even regulates the cost of the subway ride! (PS, the photo is from DiFara in Midwood, Brooklyn.)

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February 10, 2012 04:49:39 PM
:

Ken

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United States

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The new bike share bicycle

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It isn't even on the streets yet but soon it will be as ubiquitous as the yellow cab, and soon after that as emblematic of New York City! http://www.nycitybikeshare.com/

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February 10, 2012 04:42:31 PM
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ashley

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jackson heights

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The New Year's Eve Ball

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It's important because not only does it represent new york and our very own times square but it involves the whole world to a yearly celebration where we can all congregate as one to let go of the past for a fresh new start, beginning and future.

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February 10, 2012 04:07:57 PM
:

Danny R. Lambert

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Lambertville, New Jersey

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The Brick.

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After the great New York fire of 1835 which destroyed the N.Y. Stock exchange as well as most of the buildings at the southeast tip of Manhatten around Wall Street, Brick was one of the materials of choice for the rebuilding of N.Y.C. Hence there has never since been a fire of that magnitude. Brick dominates the cityscape and one of the most iconic skyscapers in New York City stands as the World's tallest steel supported Brick structure. The Chrysler Building has some 3,826,000 manually laid bricks creating the non-loadbearing walls. The building is instantly recognisable by any who have seen it as to it's place in the world and it's name.

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February 10, 2012 03:49:17 PM
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John McNally

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Annandale NJ

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Iconic poster of John Lennon.

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NYC, long-time home of artistic exiles from all over the world. Illustrates how the lives of people become deeply, intimately bound to this place. And the shirt says it all.

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February 10, 2012 03:45:19 PM
:

Sher

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Lower Manhattan

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Indoor plumbing - Hot and cold running water and flush toilets!

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Brought NYC health and hygiene up to more civilized levels, prevented disease, led to a modern building code from Old Law Tenements when people had to "go" in the back yard. Now we have modern high rises and a hot shower every morning (a miracle)!

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February 10, 2012 03:21:04 PM
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John McNally

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Annandale NJ

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A copy of Frank O'Hara's "Lunch Poems" (purchased at the Strand!)

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Books (perhaps a diminishing artifact) fueled the intellectual fire of NYC. NYC is an anchor for writers, and especially poets. O'Hara, an employee of MOMA and intimately involved with New York painters of the 50's and 60's, claims to have written some of these poems on a sample Olivetti while strolling through "a Manhattan noon." The fact that this delicious little book was published by City Lights Press in San Francisco demonstrates the reach and influence of "New York School" poetics. It also contains the legendary poem "The Day Lady Died" which remembers Billie Holiday singing at the "5 Spot", and drops names like "Park Lane", "New York Post", "6th Avenue", and that should be enough to nominate it:

"It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me..."

A gem.

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February 10, 2012 03:20:59 PM
:

mary and david burt

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hackensack, nj

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the food cart

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We walk down the street and are assaulted by so many wonderful smells. Exotic foods, some old standbys and the ever popular honey roasted peanuts. Oh my, a feast for the senses.

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February 10, 2012 03:14:08 PM
:

Robert Macaluso

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Sandy Hook, New Jersey

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American Oyster

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If the story is to be told of New York in 10 Objects, it must include the American Oyster (Crassoatrea virginica). Nothing can truly describe the history of New York better. Oysters were an important part of the New World economy since the time of the Native American Indians. New York oysters, such as Blue Point and Little Rocks, were a gastronomic delight enjoyed in the Five Points slums as well at Manhattan’s poshest dinning halls. The oyster shells provided the lime for the cement that built New York. Oyster shells also were used to make the roads and were used as money by the Native Americans. The Dutch traded with the Indians using counterfeited wampum made by inmates in the over crowded jails. Although the oyster beds of long ago are now lost to overharvest, pollution, and habitat loss, there is now an environmental movement to reestablish the oyster beds in an attempt to clean up the waters of the New York/New Jersey estuaries.

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February 10, 2012 03:07:08 PM
:

Bob

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The Village

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The Chinese Cuban Restaurant art piece.

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I have had the pleasure of NYC in my life for over 30 years. The Chinese Cuban Restaurant once was common near my old neighborhood. Perhaps the cuisine was more sorta typical Chinese and typical Cuban, but the atmosphere organically was a for real hybrid. To a guy from Connecticut and his visiting friends from all over, Spanish speaking Chinese waiters theatrically mixing with generous servings of Ropa Vieja, Chick Peas and Sausage and Cafe Con Leche, et al was a sure fire immersion in pleasant surprise. In fact anytime I wanted a pure dose of a truly unique nyc food experience, the melting pot was virtually always a Chinese Cuban Restaurant. The 70's are gone, impossible to replace, real-deal waiters retired and probably too, gentrification had its way. In the process of city-change, the 8th Avenue corridor in Chelsea lost its last such restaurant last year. Perhaps the new Duane Hanson or Edward Hopper could make an art piece to freeze the lost experience, until the new influx of Chinese Cubans find their way back to their new New York City restaurants again.

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February 10, 2012 02:51:21 PM
:

James McGee

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Morningside Heights (10027)

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The Anthora (Greek) coffee cup

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For as long as I can remember, countless New Yorkers have started their mornings with a cup of joe in one of those blue paper cups with the Greek-inspired designs on the side, comforted by the words "We are happy to serve you" (whether they are true or not). When I moved upstate to Ithaca to attend college, it was a sighting of one of those cups at a local diner that brought back fond memories of home. It represents the sustenance of thousands of coffee shops and pushcart vendors throughout the city, as well as a convenient change receptacle for panhandlers and street musicians. It has spanned generations and social classes as an object that so many New Yorkers can identify with. Diminutive in stature, it has accomplished much over the years to bring a little happiness to tired, hard-working New Yorkers.

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February 10, 2012 02:45:31 PM
:

Allyson

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Long Island

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The Aqueduct System

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Prior to the aquesduct system water was obtained through various wells that were pumping the water into resevoirs. As the population of the City increased, the well water became polluted and the supply was insufficient. The creation of the Aqueduct systems allowed millions of gallons of relatively clean water to be delivered to the city which allowed the city to expand far beyond what it would have been able to without the system.

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February 10, 2012 02:39:05 PM
:

John McNally

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Annandale NJ

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"Velvet Underground and Nico" LP cover

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An influetial band put together in NYC 1967. The music captures the zeitgeist of the era. The band has local members, plus it brings a foreign (German via Nico) element into the mix, which is still crucial to NYC's identity. With a clean, iconic cover (a silkscreen of a banana) by Andy Warhol, illustrating how the "pop" scene, born in NYC, crossed genres. This album, both cover and contents, couldn't have been born anywhere else but in the melting pot of New York.

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February 10, 2012 02:36:05 PM
:

beryl goldberg

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Manhattan

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Burner from old stove

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This object is important because it is an example of an earlier tradition of cooking. It must come from a fairly old stove. It also exemplifies a great New York tradition-finding various beautiful objects on the street and recycling them as art objects. I picked this up because of its attractive appearance (and mystery-I think this is what it is-not sure).

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February 10, 2012 02:07:10 PM
:

Robyn Wild

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Westchester County

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A hot dog cart.

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Everyone has eaten from a hot dog cart. The smells, the look, the street corner, the mustard dipper and kraut, the hardened vendor. The perfect snapshot of NYC.

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February 10, 2012 02:06:08 PM
:

Harriet Frawley

:

Newfoundland, NJ

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A Wall Street sign

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The sign represents the Dutch colony's origins sheltering an the tip of Manhattan, to today's world finance capital.

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February 10, 2012 02:05:04 PM
:

Robyn Wild

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Westchester County

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A pile of landfill.

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Don't know exactly what a typical pile of "landfill" is, but the shape and look of Manhattan would not be what it is today without it.

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February 10, 2012 02:02:40 PM
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Robyn Wild

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Westchester County

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The center clock in the main room of Grand Central Station.

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It is in the center of the room, where everyone says "I'll meet you at the clock in Grand Central". This iconic building was saved from the wrecking ball and we are so grateful. The building is magnificent.

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