Opening at the New-York Historical Society this week is an exhibition that uses objects to narrate the unique, intriguing history of New York. The objects are the selections of Sam Roberts, New York Times urban affairs correspondent, from his new book, A History of New York in 101 Objects.
From the ubiquitous to the surprising, the diverse range of objects in this exhibition encapsulates the multi-faceted nature of the city’s history. There are objects that have played roles at transformative moments in the city’s development, such as the sterling silver Tiffany throttle that powered the first journey made by the New York city subway in 1904. Other exhibits are monumental; the jar of dust collected by New-York Historical’s curators at Ground Zero following 9/11 is a disturbingly poignant icon.
The life of the street and the reassuringly everyday are not neglected, represented in objects such as a graffiti-covered door and the now defunct subway token. Roberts believes that an object as humble as the black-and-white cookie ‘democratically says New York’, being a staple of both cheap bakeries and elite establishments.
Click on any of the images below to open the slideshow.
‘A Brief History of New York: Selections from A History of New York in 101 Objects’ is at the New-York Historical Society from 22 August–30 November, 2014.