Vote For the Objects That Tell the Story of New York

Friday, February 10, 2012

To compliment the BBC series The History of the World in 100 Objects, We asked listeners to nominate the objects that they felt best told the story of New York. And wow, did we get a lot of responses!

Now it's time to narrow down that list to the top 10.

Select objects from the list below that you think most vividly represent New York. You can vote as many times as you want! We'll announce the winners on our blog The Lodown next week!

SEE full descriptions and a selection of photos of all the nominated items.

More in:

Comments [32]

Iola Caplan from Highland Park NJ

Iwill be 87 in August.
My great aunt Lena Goldstein OF BLESSED MEMORY who lived in Harlem in the early 1900's earned a living for her yiddish poet husband (GOLDSTEIN)by sewing mens' silk shirts for the wealthy with their separete collars and taking in Boarders. One boarder was the chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge(whose name I don't remember so I heard about the Brooklyn Bridge as a young child from my mother (arrived NYC in 1908) but whose name I don't recall.Sorry.
Therefore my vote would have been for the Brooklyn Bridge
Thank s IOLA Caplan

Mar. 13 2012 02:04 PM
R. McGeddon from Queens

Fire hydrant
Red fire alarm box
Ticker tape machine with tape
Walk/Don't Walk light
Con Edison "Dig We Must" sign
Con Edison hardhat
Police barrier
Police caps/helmets from different periods
Anything else having to do with police
Relic from old Penn Station
Central Park lamppost
One of the lanterns that ex-mayors traditionally have in front of their houses
Yankee pinstripe uniform along with the cap
Babe Ruth relic (mitt? #3 jersey?)
A newspaper Mayor Laguardia read the comics from
The Ford to City: Drop Dead front page
Subway token booth
Guardian Angel beret

Feb. 25 2012 11:49 AM
Vicki from Queens

Not to put too fine a point on this, but it's "Complements." With an E.

Feb. 24 2012 11:20 PM

the subway token
the I Heart NY logo
the Brooklyn Bridge
the Chrysler Building
the Yellow Cab
Yankees Baseball Cap
a locked bicycle (stripped of all removable parts)
the pigeon, cockroach and bagel

Feb. 24 2012 01:36 PM
NDGriffin from Washington

Manhole covers, watertowers, Grassroots on St Marks (alt: the Subway Bar at Lexington and 60th), cop cars, Adam Purple, the melted girder warehouse structures on the Hudson, Bleecker St, Guardian Angels poking their heads out of IRT doors in unison, the bubblehead "No Glove No Love" mural on Park South.

Feb. 24 2012 01:18 PM
Jim Callahan

I suggest some object related to Robert Moses. A municipal Pool Sign, highway guardrail (or newer sound barrier fence),a Public Housing project sign, ora notice related to eminent domain could be used to illustrate the ubiguitous impact that this indiduals work has had on the city, and region.

Feb. 24 2012 01:03 PM
adrienne from UWS

Any vintage artifacts from Toots Shor's, The Cotton Club, The Stork Club
Big Checker Cab with those little pop up seats in the back
water towers
revolving doors
street grids
Bemelmans bar
Algonquin lobby
st Regis king Cole bar with Mural
Stephen Sondheim

Feb. 24 2012 10:40 AM
jef Klein from princeton

ok here's my 10 things that need to be in the history of new york exhibit.

1. a boulder from central park. i like the boulders because they're one of the few vestiges of the original natural landscape on the island. and because central park is one of the greatest public spaces in the world.
2. oyster shell/wampum. because of that story of how the dutch bought new york from the indians for 24 dollars worth of wampum. also because in the 18th/19th centuries new york was famous for its giant oysters, which were the size of dinner plates. i'd really, really like to see an oyster that big.
3. hot dog cart. with hot dogs. free hot dogs.
4. white clay pipe. they come from the dutch. and taverns had house pipes with marks along the stem, smokers would break off the end of the stem along these marks leaving a fresh end for the next smoker.
5. news stand. with all the old new york papers in it.
6. a report card from a new york city public school. no matter what people say, i think the new york school system is pretty amazing. somehow it provides a decent basic education to so many kids from so many different countries.
7. subway token. i love the metro card but coins are cooler than cards.
8.a neighborhood bar. let paris have its cafes, we have our neighborhood bar.
9. a really good chewy bagel, hot and fresh.
10. a jar of ashes from the World Trade center. because we should never forget. and because new york is one of those places that always rebuilds itself and rises from the ashes.

Feb. 23 2012 08:45 PM
Michael from manchester n j

Having grown up in the Bronx I have a feeling of joy whenever I think of a spaldeen.

Feb. 23 2012 04:24 PM
Pat Goodman from Lynbrook, New York


For me the following items tell the story of New York:
The New York Stock exchange, The New Yorker cover "view of new york from 9th avenue," The Bagel, The Brooklyn Bridge, A Broadway Playbill, Log book from Ellis Island, Perisphere from 1938 Worlds Fair, and the Chrysler building.

Feb. 23 2012 03:06 PM

1)Lenny, So sorry you think the Westminster Treaty in which Peter Stuyvesant turned New Amesterdam over to the British is "obscure". Maybe you should check it out with your brother.
2) To the person who suggested Diego Rivera's mural from Rockefeller Center, you should know that it was ordered destroyed by John D. Rockefeller because Rivera had added an image of Lenin to it and refused to remove it.

Feb. 22 2012 07:08 PM
shirley from manhattan

my idea of NYC is the subway bench, with a guy wearing a yamaka, a halter wearing latina, a long bearded muslim gentleman, a shorts wearing any white guy with sneakers and a homeless guy with a can of beer in a brown paper bag......All sitting together and in peace with each other for a few minutes

Feb. 22 2012 02:35 PM
David Shehigian from West Village

Whitehall Gigs were first made in the U.S. at the foot of Whitehall Street in New York City to be used to ferry goods, services, and sailors on and off the boats coming into New York Harbor. In addition, Whitehalls were a popular recreational boat throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries and were known as the "Bicycle of the sea". This small but critically important craft clearly tells the story of NYC!

Feb. 22 2012 01:41 PM

I am assuming I vote by making a post here as clicking on the red bars doesn't seem to accomplish anything.

My votes:

1. Subway Token (or other subway type votes)
2. Woolworth Elevator (or Otis Elevator)
3. 1639 Map
4. Tenement House Ace 1879 (or Ellis Island Log book)
6. Dutch Brick
7. Wampum
8. Playbill
9. Erie Canal Bucket
10 World Trade Center Plane fragment

Feb. 22 2012 01:26 PM
Patricia Daniels

What? No automat window?

Feb. 22 2012 01:17 PM
Ana C from Brooklyn, NY

The Whitehall gig is iconic of New York and represents the way New Yorkers are used to doing things - independent, get out and go, and entrepreneurial.

Feb. 22 2012 06:40 AM
Nancy Tongue from Upper East Side

My vote is for the Whitehall Gig wooden boats that are indigenous to New York Harbor. There are public rowing programs in the city now that use these boats built by youth and community members from the original design plans. If these are nominated, more people will get to learn about the wonderful history of our city's great waterways.

Feb. 21 2012 10:21 PM
michael anton from East Village

My vote goes to the "Whitehall Gig", elegant 4 oared 26' wooden boats that guided merchant vessels into New York harbor in the 1800's. They also ferried passengers and goods around the rapidly developing waterfront of the city of the 19th century.
Replicas of these vessels can be rowed by the public at the Village Community Boathouse, located at Pier 40 on the Hudson River.

Feb. 21 2012 08:41 PM

You left out Bellevue Hospital.

Feb. 21 2012 05:16 PM
Helen Stavrou from Manhattan (Murray Hill)

No comment except love the show, but unhappy with the contestants for "10 objects"

Feb. 21 2012 01:22 PM

The way they are listed makes it very difficult to read them. Why are they centered?

Feb. 20 2012 12:36 PM
RoRo Kaye from Northern NJ

I think tha the bagel with a schmear of cream cheese is representative of NYC! I don't have a photo to submit,sorry.

Feb. 18 2012 02:20 PM

The Greek coffee cup, The Empire State Building, The Guggenheim Museum, Central Park Alice In Wonderland Statue, The photo of John Lennon with the NYC T-shirt on, Crack is Wack Mural, bodega sign, Statue of Liberty, Subway sign, Yankees cap, yellow taxi, Wall Street Bull statue, Webster Hall, UN Building, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Coney Island Parachute Jump platform and boardwalk, Chinatown in Queens, Little Italy in the Bronx, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Williamsburg Bridge, sneakers hanging off an electric line, subway sign

Feb. 18 2012 01:59 AM
Matthew Yanchuk

subway map

Feb. 17 2012 06:33 PM
Rob from UES

I had to vote for the Greek Coffee Cup-- Oh how I miss them!

Feb. 17 2012 05:10 PM

So how do you vote. If I click on the red bars I just get booted to the previous page. (Google search page.)

Feb. 17 2012 02:50 PM

Indigenous Peoples do not have a concept of being able to sell land. Therefore the idea that Manhattan was sold for any amonunt of money (wampum) is completely inaccurate.
If you want to vote for something that commemorates the pre-European history of the city, vote for the Pottery found in caves in Inwood Park.

Feb. 16 2012 01:32 PM
Linda Pleven from NYC

I see that two posters beat me to the punch on "complement." I would only add "Not you, Leonard!"
Just kidding, but I couldn't resist.


Feb. 16 2012 01:23 PM
tigwil from New York City

Please correct the introduction above. It should read "To complement the BBC series . . ." not "compliment".

Feb. 15 2012 02:52 PM

"Complement" not "compliment"!!!

Feb. 15 2012 09:28 AM
ron from flushing


Feb. 14 2012 07:12 PM
Lynn Ledda from CA formally NJ

For me the flags represent all of the languages you can hear in the different neighborhoods around the city.

Feb. 14 2012 01:22 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.



Supported by