A rock, specifically, a piece of Manhattan schist.
This hard stone is the foundation upon which New York's skyscrapers rest. Without it, the skyline might look very different and the city could have developed very differently.
Alice in Wonderland statue
To represent Central Park (because NYC would not by NYC w/o it). The statue is loved by children, it brings smiles to everyone and represents the importance that parks play to citizens of cities.
The Flushing Remonstrance
The Flushing Remonstrance is the one first documents, if not the first, in the New World to establish religious freedom. But more importantly for NYC history, it epitomizes the liberal Dutch tradition of tolerance that was forced on the English when they captured New Amsterdam, ironically by Stuyvesant to whom it was originally addressed. Stuyvesant had banned Quaker practice. The Remonstrance was an appeal to Dutch law which had already enshrined religious liberty. The appeal was eventually upheld by the governors of the Dutch West India Company, overruling Stuyvesant. However, a year later, during the negotiations of the terms of surrender with the English, Stuyvesant argued for and won the continuation of the tolerant policies. This established New York as the liberal anomaly among the cities of English New World.
Native of NYC now in PA
The 1938 World's Fair TRYLON & PERISPHERE
(There may be a room-size model at the World's Fair exhibit in Flushing (the old Fair grounds)
These structures symbolized the city's willingness to 'look ahead...to better times' even as the war clouds were thickening over Europe.
Re a photo: the Fair Museum should have photos and small (souvenir) models ... hopefully they have a larger (room sized) model
New Providence NJ
The "Big Bat" outside Yankees Stadium
Not only is it an iconic symbol of the greatest franchise in sports it's also a venerable landmark for people to meet each other. How many times have Yankee fans said to one another "I'll meet you at the Big Bat after the game..." It also connects the old Stadium with the new.
The Subway Token
Though made obsolete by the Metrocard, the subway token represents admission to what amounts to the circulatory system of New York.
The vital environment of the subways, from the graffiti covered years to the new shiny silver cars, is a critically important part of experiencing the city, whether a resident or a tourist.
The token is a tangible representation of the history of life here in NYC.
The crosswalk button!
Really, how many of us pressed and pressed and pressed just to have the traffic signal change only when it is supposed to. It is a great way to kill a minute or two...
The most useless way to kill time at a crosswalk, the walk button...
Who in NY hasn't pressed one of these crosswalk buttons just to only be entertained until the light changes. Have these relics ever worked?
Just as New York once was choked with ticker tape, now it seems that everyone involved in finance--worldwide--works off of a Bloomberg terminal. It revolutionized the financial sector, helped keep that part of the NYC economy robust, and it was invented and marketed by Michael Bloomberg, who used the fortune he made off of the product to eventually become a 3-term mayor of the city.
elizabeth S. Titus
upper West Side/CPW
The flags in front of the United Nations building
The United Nations was founded in 1945 after WWII by 51 countries committed to " maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights."
What New Yorker hasn't cussed when the traffic is worse than normal due to heads of state arriving at the UN on the East River!
Where else in the US other than our city -- the most international in the world -- would the UN be?
Empire State of Mind, a song
I think this object is has reached iconic status. After the Yankees won the World Series and the Giants won the Superbowl we heard this song everywhere. The artists who sing the song, Jay Z and Alicia Keys are from New York.
A piece of Manhattan schist.
Without this sturdy stone, New York may not have produced the skyscraper-laden skyline that defines it.
The pale/bucket that De Witt Clinton used to pour water from Lake Erie into New York Harbor upon completion of the Erie Canal. (You can see it as slide 6 in this NYTimes slideshow: http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/01/03/nyregion/CUOMO-6.html)
This object nicely encapsulates the moment when the City of New York became the gateway to the rest of the country, solidifying New York's status as the Empire State.
a disco ball
Disco was born from New York's fractured and fertile urban landscape during the 1970s, and quickly became the city's main musical export during the fiscal-crisis era. Disco's cultural evolution was deeply connected to the city's demographic and financial changes, as its promulgators appropriated vacant buildings, fused musical styles and attracted diverse patrons to the dancefloor's potential utopianism.
The New Years Ball
It is a symbol of the city celebrating the passing of a year, an object that for 60 seconds every year nearly everyone is fixated on.
A barge from the Erie Canal
At a certain time in US history, the Eris Canal played the central role in connecting NY and the Eastern US with the rest of the country. It was a breakthrough for the industrial and commercial expansion of our young and growing country. Those simple barges, pulled by mules and manned by hardworking canal workers, is a symbol of American growth and expansion.
A runner's official "number" from the NYC Marathon.
The NYC Marathon is the World's greatest marathon - and places NYC at the center of the world in a very visual way, one time each year. It brings together young and old, fit and disabled, all nations and languages - and grabs the attention of the city and the world.
For a certain era, ticker tape and ticker tape parades were the symbols of greatness, courage, success and victory - whether athletes, aviators, war heroes, political luminaries. That ear deserves to be remembered, because it "will be no more".
NY Yankee baseball cap
The NY Yankees are the symbol of NY, the world over. Everyone associates the NY Yankees cap with NY.
Playbill from a Broadway show
It symbolizes Broadway - at the heart of NYC's entertainment industry