A History of New York in 50 Objects!

Dear Commons Community

Sam Roberts of the New York Times has compiled a list of 50 objects (see below) that tell the story of New York City.  Inspired by “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” the British Museum’s BBC radio series and book, historians and museum curators were recruited to identify 50 objects that could embody the narrative of New York. Roberts has also set up a blog for people to add to the list.


The List

  1. Mastodon Tusk, About 11,000 B.C.
  2. Munsee Arrowhead, Pre-1700
  3. The Schaghenbrief, 1626
  4. The Flushing Remonstrance, 1657
  5. Painting of New Amsterdam, 1665
  6. The Oyster, Late 1600s
  7. English-Dutch Dictionary, 1730
  8. Beads From the African Burial Ground, 1700s
  9. A Horse’s Tail, 1776
  10. Washington’s Balcony, 1789
  11. Wooden Water Pipes, About 1800
  12. Randel’s Map, 1811
  13. Lake Erie Keg, 1825
  14. Singer Sewing Machine, 1851
  15. Patent for Otis Elevator Brake, 1861
  16. The Lefferts’ Cookbook, 1800s
  17. Checks of Boss Tweed, 1866-1870
  18. Edison’s Dynamo, 1882
  19. Brooklyn Bridge Toll Ticket, About 1883-1898
  20. Manuscript of ‘The New Colossus,’ 1883
  21. Sculpture of the 1898 Consolidation
  22. Child’s Shoes From the General Slocum, 1904
  23. Tiffany Subway Throttle, 1904
  24. Battle’s Badge, 1911
  25. The Automat Machine, 1912
  26. The Bagel, Early 1900s
  27. 1913 Armory Show Stamp
  28. First Yankee Stadium Program, 1923
  29. Rivoli Air Conditioning Advertisement, 1925
  30. Ticker Tape, 1929
  31. The Artichoke, 1933
  32. Tree of Hope, 1934
  33. Time Capsule From 1939 World’s Fair
  34. Levittown House, 1947
  35. 1955 World Series Banner
  36. Checker Taxicab, 1952-1986
  37. Diplomatic Plates, 1960s Onward
  38. ‘Tonight Show’ Audio Track, 1962
  39. Greek Coffee Cup, 1960s
  40. Bernstein’s Baton, 1969
  41. Saturday Night Special, 1960s Onward
  42. ‘FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD’ Headline, 1975
  43. AIDS Button, 1980s
  44. Loisaida Avenue Sign, 1987
  45. The Boom Box, 1980s
  46. The Phantom’s Mask, 1988
  47. The MetroCard, 1994
  48. 9/11 Dust, 2001
  49. Mast Brothers Chocolate Bar, 2007 Onward
  50. Meng Political Sign, 2012


A Recap of the Republican National Convention!

Dear Commons Community,

We heard lots of news and reviews of the Republican National Convention this past week.  Here is a quick recap:

  • Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac wreaked havoc with the schedule forcing the four day event into three days.  In the interests of safety this was a good decision.
  • Ann Romney was effective in portraying the human side of her husband but could have gone into more depth on a few of her assertions.
  • Chris Christie’s talk was too much about him and not Romney.  One commentator counted Christie saying the word “I” 37 times and “Romney” seven times.
  • Condeleeza Rice likewise focused a bit on herself and may be laying the groundwork for a run in 2016.  Wouldn’t this be fun if Hillary Clinton was the Democratic nominee in 2016.
  • Paul Ryan has a serious truth problem.   He blamed President Obama for all the ills of the country and had absolutely no problem lying and distorting facts (i.e., Medicare proposals, closing of automobile plants)
  • The Republican National Platform reads like a right-wing manifesto.  Lots of pain for lots of people except the wealthiest Americans.   John McCain, a moderate, when asked about it said:  “You rally around a platform at the convention but run away from it if elected”.
  • Someone must have put some illegal substance into Clint Eastwood’s Geritol for him to give the most bizarre convention speech ever.
  • Mitt Romney was good but not great but then again he had to follow Clint Eastwood.

If you haven’t had enough of political conventioneering, the Democrats have their turn starting on Monday.