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Tell the Story of New York in 10 Objects

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February 02, 2012 01:39:24 PM
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Romanie Baines

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Manhattan.

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The wrecking ball.

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I think the wrecking ball is important as it symbolizes so much of the razing of older, often historic, buildings in New York City to make way for cookie cutter, hi-rise apartment buildings. These invariably with a bank or a Duane Reade store on the street level, paying very high rent and ousting the possibility of any more Mom and Pop type stores.

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February 02, 2012 01:34:22 PM
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Stephen Schwarz

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Jersey City

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The Burr-Alexander Dueling pistols, together with the Chase logo.

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One of the major themes of New York is finance. The duel was a conflict between what were the democrats and republicans of the time. Hamilton and the federalists were behind the Bank of New York. Burr was behind the Manhattan Water company which obtained a banking charter, breaking the Hamilton monopoly, by getting a charter to deliver water. The Chase symbol is allegedly of a cross section of wooden pipe used to transport water by the Manhattan water company, the progenitor of the Manhattan, then Chase-Manhattan Bank. This is a major part of the history of NY.

I believe JPM has the dueling pistols at corp headquarters. The Chase Logo is all over NY

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February 02, 2012 01:30:26 PM
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Oscar

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Brooklyn

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Two items:
1. The Anthora coffee cup.

2. Bodega awnings.

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1. Nothing says bodega coffee like these little blue wonders.
http://goo.gl/1UaT0

2. Yellow and red with colored often busted incandescent bulb. Their blinking generating a slight hum and vibration that is amplified by the tin structures.
http://goo.gl/WlN5D

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February 02, 2012 01:30:15 PM
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Paula

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New York City

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Blue/White/Gold Greek Diner coffee cup - "We are happy to serve you"

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It's iconic, symbolic and nostalgic. Before there was either a Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or a bank on every corner, you would find a Greek Diner. They are getting fewer and far between, unfortunately. Represents the character, grittiness, entrepreneurship, and everything that is great about New Yorkers!

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February 02, 2012 01:21:45 PM
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Annice Alt

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Washington Heights

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The Flushing Remonstrance

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Its importance is that it establishes freedom of religion at a very early date in New York's history.

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February 02, 2012 10:20:41 AM
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Richard Francisco

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LES

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The sidewalk basement access doors.

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This dual door contraption is fairly ubiquitous in and around NYC. Personally, as a pedestrian I invariably feel momentarily queasy when stepping on these doors especially when they sink a little underfoot. That aside I find them conceptually interesting and very New York.

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February 02, 2012 10:09:58 AM
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Elizabeth S. Titus

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upper West Side/CPW

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Signage from window of Grey's Papaya on Upper West Side.

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Signage combines great deals on hot dogs and political commentary! The hot dog Julia Child called the best in the world...

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February 02, 2012 09:51:45 AM
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Elizabeth S. Titus

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upper West Side/CPW

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The gold symbol of medicine.

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NYC has some of the finest medical centers, doctors, scientists in the world.

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February 02, 2012 09:50:01 AM
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Elizabeth S. Titus

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upper West Side/CPW

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The map scarf sold by the Central Park Conservancy gift shop. It a map of Central Park -- Bow Bridge, Bethesda Terrace, Conservatory Water, the Great Lawn...

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What would Manhattan be without its glorious park? In the 30+ years I have lived on the Park on the Upper West Side, it keeps getting better and better.

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February 01, 2012 08:43:44 PM
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Genevieve Lynch

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Tribeca

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Bagel with a shmear.

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Iconic New York. An immigrant food that has migrated into the morning routine of, dare I say, every New Yorker. The bagel and shmear is New York. So much so that it's common knowledge - the bagel cannot be replicated outside of these five boroughs.

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February 01, 2012 06:54:21 PM
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Elizabeth S. Titus

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upper West Side/CPW

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Plane fragment from WTC attacks.

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How can you have a history of NYC in 10 objects and NOT include something from 9-11?

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February 01, 2012 06:50:34 PM
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Elizabeth S. Titus

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upper West Side/CPW

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Stamp from 1939 World's Fair.

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The Fair that put NYC on the map!

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February 01, 2012 06:48:42 PM
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Elizabeth S. Titus

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upper West Side/CPW

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A Playbill from 1951, with image of Ethel Merman.

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The Great White Way. Enough said.

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February 01, 2012 06:44:50 PM
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Elizabeth S. Titus

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upper West Side/CPW

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box of doggie poop bags

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NYC is all about dogs, as anyone with a dog knows.I am a member of a doxie meetup group that has over 1,000 members --only in NYC!!!

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February 01, 2012 05:14:30 PM
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Elizabeth S. Titus

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Upper West Side/CPW

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The Brooklyn Bridge

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The Brooklyn Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Completed in 1883, it connects the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its opening until 1903, and the first steel-wire suspension bridge.
Originally referred to as the New York and Brooklyn Bridge and as the East River Bridge, it was dubbed the Brooklyn Bridge, a name from an earlier January 25, 1867 letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle,[6] and formally so named by the city government in 1915. Since its opening, it has become an icon of New York City, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964[5][7][8] and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972.[9]

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February 01, 2012 05:11:22 PM
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Elizabeth S. Titus

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Upper West Side/CPW

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A container of Hudson River water.

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Without the Hudson River, it is doubtful that Manhattan would have been settled when it was.

English explorer Henry Hudson -- sailing for the Dutch -- on September 11, 1609 sailed up the lower Hudson River and anchored off the tip of northern Manhattan. He saw the island for the first time from this vantage point.

The island was settled by the Dutch in 1624. And the rest is history!

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February 01, 2012 04:54:42 PM
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Virginia Thomas

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New York City

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A Radio Antenna

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Because a radio antenna symbolizes the need and urge of all New Yorkers to communicate, and because it sits atop one of the cities most fundamental cultural architectural icons -- The Empire State Building.

We are loud, brash, creative, insightful, energetic, thoughtful and poised at any moment to tell each other what’s on our minds.

Don’t we all wish we could beam our message around the world?

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February 01, 2012 04:02:15 PM
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Virginia Thomas

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New York City

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The "I <heart> NY" logo

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Because it speaks to the essence of New York. This a city in which the heart is central to a day here. New York pulses. It attracts lovers of art, music, fashion, business, food, entertainment, travel, news, fame, sports, and includes seekers of all kinds. The subway map even looks like our arteries!

Be it a lifetime, or a one day visit, one may grow or recoil from being here but we are never the same. In this way NY is a city of risk. It is a human city where we find people in their rawest and most glorious forms.

Bravo New York for giving us vibrancy, intensity, passion and - even – lust without ever missing a beat.

Happy Valentine's Day NY!

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February 01, 2012 02:53:44 PM
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Adam Herbst

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New Jersey

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Two Leftover Staircases: The remaining staircase from the Polo Grounds up on Coogan's Bluff and the remaining staircases in Penn Station from the old Penn Station

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Like all good things are important for both what they are and what they represent. The Polo Grounds staircase speaks to the ball field that was once there - home of the Giants (baseball and football) from John McGraw, Christy Mathewson, and Mel Ott to Willie Mays and also the Mets (Marv Throneberry years). Although the Giants were not the first team to integrate baseball, they were in the thick of it with Monte Irvin and Mays. And the fact that they left for the West Coast also speaks to departures from the City of all types. As to the Mets, clearly they were part of that new growing out of the old that is emblematic of New York (and also a little objective correlative in Mad Men episodes). This area is now mainly public housing - only these stairs survive.

The staircases in Penn Station. Not that you would know it, but there used to be a railroad station in Penn Station and the only thing that is left are a few staircases down to the tracks. Perhaps there are two stories to be told here. The first, of course, of the destruction of the old without much thought as to its importance - time marching on, don't stand in the way, that type of thing. Not a happy story, but one that is implicit every time we look at a new structure going up. The second story is that those staircases speak to a wake up call - that there is meaning in the old and that if people don't do anything to protect the old, it won't be there any more whether we want it to be or not. Surely not every piece of real estate that is protected is something that everyone would want (I'm speaking to you, George Washington Bridge Bus Station), but having a conversation about the meaning of these things is, well, meaningful.

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February 01, 2012 02:31:10 PM
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Adam Herbst

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River Edge, NJ

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Daily News headline: Ford to City: Drop Dead

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How much can five little words tell you? The prehistory - how did the City get in those financial straits? What were the funding and expenditures for the City like from the end of WWII to the mid 70s? Where did the tax base go?

That moment - this was New York's nadir - do you remember what New York was like? Do remember the subways, the crime, the garbage, the Mollen Commission, the MAC Bonds, seeing Felix Rohatyn and Governor Carey on TV all the time? And what does it say about the way that DC and the country saw New York (and continue to see New York)?

And Now - like the Sondheim song - "We're Still Here" - was it the nadir of the City - an argument could be made that it was the high point of the City - the creation of punk, hip hop, new wave, loft jazz, minimalism - artists can live cheaply in a city dangling on the edge.

Ford to City: Drop Dead - its a touchstone not only for where the City was at that time, but also for the nature of New York City and New Yorkers as survivors. For the next thousand years, any time someone thinks that New York is behind the 8 ball, never to come back - show them this headline and watch out.

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