ny times : a history of new york in 50 objects

The New York Times invited historians and museum creators to produce A History of New York in 50 Objects, as inspired by The British Museum and BBC Radio's A History of the World in 100 Objects. They're inviting comments/submissions as well, with full understanding that this is a history, not the history. It's a wonderful collection and a fun way to brush up on the city's history.


  • Leonard Bernstein's conductor baton;
  • a stump section from the long-gone famous elm tree believed to grant performers good luck on stage at The Apollo Theater;
  • a letter from Dutchman Pieter Schaghen in 1626 about the purchase of Manhattan for $24 from Native Americans;
  • a lox bagel;
  • and an audio track from Johnny Carson's ‘Tonight Show’ in 1962.
Below, 1665 watercolor by Johannes Vingboons of Dutch New Amsterdam.

Excavated beads from the African Burial Ground by what is now City Hall, dated to the 1700s:

The manuscript of the poem, ‘The New Colossus,’ by Emma Lazarus in 1883, commissioned to raise money for the building of the Statue of Liberty's pedestal, with the famous words "give me your tired, your poor":

A classic checkered taxi cab:

In honor of 80's New York City, the boombox:

And a reference to the  now "global brand" of Brooklyn, with Mast Brothers chocolate bars:

Explore the rest of the collection where you can read more details on each object.