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tv   Artifacts from New York History  CSPAN  December 7, 2014 6:36pm-7:47pm EST

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and he was born here in brooklyn. [applause] yes! as someone who is superhuman in his powers to be in more than one place at one time. his latest book -- "and history of new york in 101 objects" took some superhuman powers narrowing it down. so, without further ado, let's hear about that book. please help me welcome sam roberts. [applause] >> thank you. thanks to all of you for coming tonight. thanks for inviting me. it is great to be back in brooklyn. my son and daughter-in-law live a couple of blocks away. so i get to come here often and visit with grandchildren.
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and it is great to be back here all the time. a few years ago, after agreeing to write a book celebrating the centennial of grand central terminal, i casually suggested an audacious but catchy subtitle, how a train station transformed america. and almost immediately i was struck by second thoughts. individuals and events shape history, but could a single building? luckily, grand central's 100 year imprint on commerce and culture, its pivotal role in urban development, and codifying landmark and air rights, in shifting manhattan's cultural center of gravity from downtown in midtownstep manhattan, turned out to validate the subtitle after all. aell, a building, albeit
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monumental one, was one thing. could a single object be transformative? that question arose after the british museum and the bbc collaborated on the history of the world in 100 objects. that inspired a spate of collections on subjects including bird watching, the first world war, cricket, the future, the beatles, shakespeare, the civil war in a more modest 50 objects, religion in 5 1/2 objects, the smithsonian professed that the history of america demanded 101 objects. now has produced a catalog-like the history of the world in 1000 objects. my history ofith
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new york in 101 objects. you objects make a difference? think of the marks that things have made on civilization. think of things like a crucifix, the credit card. the computer chip. richard curin, provided us with the means to reconsider our past in light of what we value today. what are the objects in your own life? what was your rosebud moment, a favorite dooll or other childhood totem? that game winning football? a beatles tickets to? stub? a grandchild's first tooth. imagine having to choose just one item that defined your life,
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your rosebud moment. and what about rosebud? it was very interesting. i went and looked back at what rosebud in the film " citizen kane" was about. forget the sled. what about the bicycle? before charles foster cane mumbled his secret to citizen kane on his deathbed, the sled had mutated from a beloved two whellereler. stolen from outside a library where herman mankiewicz, the screenwriter, had parked it. became his rosebud, his abiding heartbreak over the consequences of a juvenile indulgence. as punishment for leaving his bicycle unattended, so the story
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goes, his parents refuse to buy him a new one. so that is what he lived with, and he turned that into the movie rosebud, which he wrote with orson welles. metamorphic rosebud moment was even more powerful and subliminal. orson welles wrote shortly before the film was released in 1941 that kane was snatched from his mother's arms in early childhood. his parents were a bank. in his waking hours, kane had forgotten the sled and the name that was painted on it. in his subconscious, it represented the simplicity, the offort above all the lack responsibility in his home, and it also stood for his mother's never lost.kane
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how to rekindle a dying man subconscious with the snow globe? remember, he was holding that still globe at the end of the film. boy'snjure up a little sled. welles and mankiewicz cast kane art,hoarder of objects of objects of sentiment, just plain objects, objects welles said that represent the dust heap of a man's life. what was my rosebud? it was nothing as lofty is all that. i went back and try to figure it out. it was a frumpy teddy bear. an early respect for history i tried to find out the derivation of the teddy bear. the prototype was created in 19 02 not far from here in -jewishn by a russian
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proprietor of a candy store. the live specimen that inspired the teddy bear was in fact personally saved by teddy roosevelt. he deemed it unsportsmanlike to shoot prey that was already cornered by fellow hunters. unfortunately, i later learned to my disappointment that the bear was killed any way to spirit further pain. my teddy bear is still wearing the flannel suit that was tailored for him by my grandfather who was an immigrant pattern maker who worked in the garment center. and when i was in the first grade, i wrote a poem about him, which was published in the east new york savings bank school bank news. it was my first byline. i loved the attention. and who knows?
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maybe that is why i became a journalist instead of a big game hunter. that was my rosebud. in a materialistic world, one advantage of focusing on isects, on artifacts demonstrating that plane objects have value beyond money. they have a certain worth, said, not just because someone paid a zillion dollars for them. a footnote or did that rosebuds sled, it belong to offer bauer who got it as a 12-year-old member of a film in brooklyn.217 he won it in a contest. he was picking the oscar winners that year. and he won the sled from the movie company. and he sold it 54 years later
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for $233,000. dollars, bution it was worth something in sentimental value and in monetary value. it a virtual world, objects also lend a certain authenticity that three dimensional objects do not do. they provided another way of looking at history, not just in terms of the chronological timeline. not just in terms of events. for show there was a need something, there was an invention, something that was not necessarily obvious, something that was not overdetermined. someone had to put something together. why did that thing come into being? and that is something that an object can make us think about in ways that other things cannot.
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inspired by the british museum decided to, i attempt my own historical object list. first is an article for the "new york times." the conceit of mind was 100 might suffice for the world, new york needed 101. had to beia, they emblematic of some sort of transformation. they had to exist. there is only one in the book that i could not find. they could not be too much bigger than a breadbox. there are couple of exceptions. that they could not be too much bigger than a breadbox, and they could not be human. so that rolled out things like the statue of liberty and also a number- ed koch, who of people suggested. they could be iconic.
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i did not want things like the empire state building, things that were obvious. but also provocative. which is why i wanted things that were less obvious and more quirky. of new yorkhis book objects would i include something like an artichoke, or the command -- mechanical cotton picker? what did that have to do with new york? 1803 missing persons notice that appeared on the front of new york newspapers. they could not all the about food. there were so many food items that people suggested from every -- p izza, egg creams. rates,he declining crime i thought maybe the city's official motto should become
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"leave the gun, take the cannoli." the challenge was in winning wing the objects down to 101. readers to submit suggestions and hundreds and hundreds poured in. and what was startling was this was not a new york centric exercise. people from all over the country and all over the world had suggestions. and they were ingenious. and people had some connection with the city, not just from being expatriates, but people had seen a movie, read a book, people who felt some sort of connection that i just had not imagined. and deacon sussed -- deconstructing history turned out to be fun. probing history through authentic objects enable you or enabled me to embrace the past.
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here i was someone who thought i knew everything there was to know about new york. i did not. i learned so much in doing this book. objects in dow history with the unique dimension. they allow you to explore it. as the british museum's neil mcgregor said, by deciphering the messages that objects communicate across time. they let you tell a narrative that encompasses everybody -- texts don't. and jeremy hill, the curator of that british museum history series that ran on radio and podcasts, said that the objects when you put them together in a projectumber make a like that much more comprehensible. is a way of101
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putting them in a digestible format. we all love lists. he said it makes us all sort of like we are participating in "american idol." like simon cowell. one of the things i was striving for was to represent a broad politicallyt a correct spectrum but a broad spectrum. when you think of objects i was considering this caveat from russell baker, the former "new york times" columnist. he said "objects can be classified scientifically into three categories. those that do not work, those that break down, and those that get lost." not want the list to be skewed because the objects are simply those that managed to survive. there is aill said,
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limit to the number of stone ace buddhas you can include. the public for suggestions can skew the list to objects that people remember most or have developed nostalgia for. ny invitedr, the public when so americans to vote for the object that best to find its collection, what was most iconic in this smithsonian's collection. the winner turned out to be one year old. a baby, giant panda. in t nationalhe zoo. originalrs-up were the "star-spangled banner" woody guthrie's recording of "this land is your land" and
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gilbert stuart's portrait of george washington. let's take a look at some of the chose for my book. if i can get this to work. let's see. i am going to try. if i can find the right button. there we go. this is the oldest object in the book. it is bigger than a breadbox. gneyss.alled fordham it is opposite the playing field at columbia, the columbia c painted, called c rock. oldest rocke formation believed to be in new york city. not the oldest man-made object. that is cleopatra's needle behind museum of -- metropolitan museum of art. but this is the oldest natural object in new york.
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1.2 billion years old. -- 1.2 million years old. sorry.ion, i'm in new jerseyting but depicts the first recorded murder in new york. i stumbled across this when i was writing a story about the quarter centennial of henry in on's voyage to new york 1609. there was a diary by his first described in murder of one of the members of henry hudson's crew. was the firsthis recorded incident of racial profiling in new york. because everybody blamed the murder on the indians. the evidence that i could find and brought it to a number of forensic detectives.
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they said, wait a minute. who knows that it was the indians? it was the murder of a crew member whom nobody liked. there was really no evidence, except that he was apparently shot by a narrow. -- an arrow. and it could've been a setup. this could've been fate. it could've been an attempt to frame the indians. there was no other evidence whatsoever. looking at it through modern perspective, there was really no evidence to blame it on the indians whatsoever. so this is a painting of the crew getting shot by the indians and what could've been the first racial profiling case and the first murder in new york history. this is the city's birth certificate. 1624. nbrief.alled the hage
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the certificate is in the hague. it tells what was on the first ship coming back from new amsterdam. it is a letter to the west india company. numbersays there are x of beaver skins and other commodities that were brought back. it says a certain number of kids were born in the new amsterdam colony. way, welso says, by the bought manhattan island. deal of question whether the indians thought they were selling manhattan island. the dutch thought they were
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buying it. if anything constitutes the birth certificate of new york, this is it. 657, as the flushing -- 1 group of settlers in queens 100 years before the bill of rights. petitioned peter stuyvesant and said you are mistreating the quakers. the west india company promised that we are going to treat everyone equally. not necessarily because we are unliket, but because every other colony in every other settlement in the americas, we did not come here for escaping religious persecution. we did not come here to prospect for gold. we did not come here to convert the indians. we came here to make money. interfered, wedy were not going to bother them.
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you can call that tolerance. you can call that indifference. but that is what distinct what became new york from every other colony in the country. and that in difference or tolerance, however you want to look at it, idealistically or not, is what new york exported to the rest of the country and what the rest of the world saw dream that new york represented. these people in flushing, queens, demanding that peter stuyvesant live up to that dream. and the west india company forced him to do that. which is why a decade later when the english showed up and said surrender to us, the colonists in new amsterdam stead -- said sure. because we would rather have the english then peter stuyvesant.
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p.w amsterdam gave u much to peter stuyvesant's surprise. this is a rosetta stone of new amsterdam. it was in english-dutch dictionary. the english came in and did not want to change anything. why tinker with something that was working? they said to the dutch, we will abide by your laws and customs. we will abide by everything you weapons andyour keep your bars open. we will let you have your property rights. the only problem was the jury system. we do not understand your language. so how are we going to institute the english system of trial by jury? so, they had to learn the language.
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and one of the ways they did it was a dictionary. so learning the language, believe it or not, something as simple as that became very important. english-dutchn dictionary. this is the missing person notice. 1809. it was a notice that said a man was missing from his hotel room. and the man had left a manuscript of a book. man did not return to his hotel room, the manuscript would have to be sold to pay his hotel bill. this was the first literary hoax in new york history. and it was sort of the birth of celebrity, something that we are all familiar with today. and it was taken out and put on the front page of almost every manyork newspaper by a named washington irving. and it was to sell his
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knickerbockers history of new york. and it did. it made a lot of money for washington irving. because a couple of weeks after ghis announcement, irvin publish that manuscript, and this was all a publicity stunt for the book. and it sold the book and became the birth a sold the book and became celebrity literary hoax, and obviously spawned a great fashion in this city. bolt sitting in the middle of central park. some of you may have tripped over it. it seems pretty innocuous, but it defined manhattan, and it defines development in manhattan. commissioners hired john randle junior.
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make a mapwe want to of manhattan. manhattan is haphazard. you do not know what is going to happen north of houston street. it is these perfect lanes. street are just pastures, and we need some rational system for development. a crew ofe talked to surveyors and mapped manhattan all the way up to 155th street. there was nothing there. there were pastors. it was all rural. human block after block and put intersection, and developed what became the grid system for manhattan. hence, gridlock. this is the only visible symbol left of that gridlock. old bolt left of the bolts and the stakes that john randall
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jr. put into it. he was chased by property owners who did not want the streets going through their farms, their properties. more -- clement moore, who wrote "the night before christmas, was most outraged that his land in what became greenwich village was being split up to the grid system. but that created the rational system, for better or for worse, for development that became manhattan, that created the grid system that rationalized development of manhattan. became a very democratic system of development in manhattan, because it sort of split the city up into more or less equal lots. day, thel park to this last remnant of that system. this is very interesting, a ticket to the 3rd avenue trolley. i never heard of this story, but
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elizabeth jennings, one morning woman, got onck the 3rd avenue trolley. was in lower manhattan on a sunday morning, on her way to church, and she got thrown off the trolley because she was black. and she sued. she hired a young lawyer named chester arthur, who would go on to become president of the united states. and she took the case to court. it was decided here in brooklyn. she sued the third avenue trolley company, and she won. the court said the trolley company had no right to throw her off the trolley because she was black. as long as she was law-abiding, as long as she was decent, as long as she did not create a disturbance, and this was 100
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years before rosa parks in montgomery, alabama. made law innnings public transit van in terms of racial integration in brooklyn in 1851. a couple of years later, in 1860, right after he spoke at plymouth church, a couple of blocks from here, abraham himself toroduced the east by speaking at cooper union. he had the first real campaign photograph taken at matthew stadium, and then he spoke at cooper union. this is the only surviving to that speech. it was from a collector of lincoln memorabilia in the midwest, for a lot more than $.25 the ticket cost.
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this was a speech where he said the might makes right, speech that was printed in every new york newspaper the next day. that was printed as a pamphlet that became a campaign leaflet. there was a speech that arguably made lincoln the president of the united states. not, by the way, by the vote in new york city, which very much voted against lincoln and was very much pro-secessionist, and probably proslavery. plan, a patent plan, for the otis elevator safety would without which we not have had skyscrapers in new york. pt barnum and elisha otis demonstrated this device at the crystal palace, which is where
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bryant park is today. otis went up in this elevator in the crystal palace, went up several stories in this elevator, and he took a giant , andof pliers, big shears cut the cable to the elevator, and the crowd gasped, because they thought he was going to plummet to the earth. safe, ando, it is all the elevator went down a couple of feet and stopped, because it was stopped by this elevator safety break. -- brake. and with that safety brake came the era of skyscrapers in new york. right after that, they were able to build skyscrapers because of that safety brake. you can see all over the new york otis elevators to this day, otis escalators.
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he opened a plant in yonkers, and they are still making those in big buildings. world trade center, the new building going up. we owe the what skyline of new york city to. this was 1863, the draft lottery. names were thrown into that we'll. that wheel is still at the new york historical society. the names were thrown in. the wheel was spun around. the names were picked out. if names were picked out, you were drafted. that werese wheels picked out that sparked the draft riots that almost destroyed new york city, that resulted in many, many deaths, that created what then was the largest civil disturbance in american history except for the civil war, the largest one-day .isturbance
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they brought troops back from gettysburg to quell the disturbance. they created a monster rift between native americans and the irish immigrants who were being drafted, and ultimately boss tweed of the tammany organization managed to create a bond issue that paid the $300 draftees from the going off to war. likese if you had $300, many of the native americans, the protestants, did, they could pay to get out of the draft. the irish immigrants did not have that money, but the city raise the money to pay the $300 irish immigrants did not have to go to the war, and b, the irish immigrants would vote for tammany, which they did. and it was all this little machine that caused the draft
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riots in 1863. the water tank. new york developed a great water system. there are other things in the book that talk about the water system that was developed by aaron burr and the manhattan company. the chase manhattan bank was the bank of the manhattan company. the manhattan company was a water company. but the water company was burr because he wanted a bank. the way he was able to create a bank was to create a water company and slip into the charter of the water company, a little clause which said any profits could be used to create anything else he wanted. he created a bank.
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the water company fell by the wayside. it never really produced much water. the bank went on. in fact, the bank of the manhattan company went on 1920's,water until the because it was afraid of losing its charter. and every meeting of the bank of the manhattan company, they would have victors -- pitchers theater being served, into 1920's, just to make sure the bank did not lose its state charter for banking. but the water was awful. nobody would drink it. the reservoir system was begun, a great system that resulted in mostly gravity-fed water for the city of new york. but the gravity-fed water, for the most part, would not rise above six stories. so we had to pump the water higher than that in two water tanks, which then fed by gravity down from there. and they are still in use today.
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they still are very efficient. new tall buildings, wooden water tanks are still the most efficient way of delivering water. in the water tanks expands so they do not leak. and the three companies that supply those water tanks have been doing that for 100 years, and they are still doing them today, and very effectively and efficiently. some of them have been replaced by high-speed pumps. some of them have been replaced by stainless steel tanks. but for the most part, the buildings are still being built with the same water tanks that have been there since the 1870's, 1880's. very interesting, something i did not know. the statue of liberty, when he was given to us as a gift from had nothing to do with
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immigration. ofwas a symbol of liberty, freedom, of french independence, of the french trying to show after their own revolution, after their own difficulties with democracy, how generous they were, how benevolent they were. it was only after emma lazarus wrote her problem about wretched refuse that it became the welcoming beacon of immigration that we all know it today. it was only after the plaque was affixed to it, the base of it, many years later, and there is the original manuscript of her problem -- give me your tired, your poor. madet was that palm that it the symbol of immigration then it became to people from
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all over the world. and it was not intended as that. it was her poem that made it that, and that may new york and made america the welcoming symbol that it really became. statue on top of a municipal building -- hard to see her face. closely atlook statues and monuments all over manhattan, you will recognize that face. it is ms. manhattan, audrey munson, a name you have probably never heard of. she was a stripper. [laughter] she committed suicide at the age of 101. favorite model of saint auden and stanford white. a fascinating history, and no one has ever heard of this woman. i just thought, here is a woman
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who has this fascinating, somewhat tawdry history. she is on monuments all over new york. and no one knows her. fountain the pulitzer in manhattan. she is the main statue at the other end of central park. all over. and she was this pornographic movie star, someone who you would not, if you had to choose today, take her to represent new york as a public figure. she has civic fame on top of the municipal building, not surprisingly with her back to brooklyn. i think we should probably be out of that fact, given who she is. but a story in herself, knowing now who she is. what is that? handle that was
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the throttle of the first subway train. mayor mcclellan was supposed to when he drove the first -- and pose for photographers when he drove the first subway train in 1904. the problem was, he would not let go. he drove the train all the way up to 145th street, fortunately safely. he gave it up, and someone more qualified drove it hard. but that was the tiffany silver subway train throttle. york now also at the new historical society. that was the original throttle, the commemorative throttle, that was supposed to be only commemorative, but mayor mcclellan actually used it to drive the train all the way up. the artichoke. why an artichoke in a book of 101 objects?
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well, because i wanted people to be provoked, and say, what is an artichoke doing in a book like this? not, if youe it or think you are living in the nanny state of rudy giuliani or michael bloomberg, think back to fear relevant guardia. guardia.lo la he banned the sale of artichokes. why? terranova was the artichoke king, and controlled artichokes.f la guardia thought if you banned the sale of artichokes, it would kill organized crime. that workedyou, about as well as banning the sale of slurp these. -- slurpees. la guardia even banned ciro terranova from new york.
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he said he could not enter the city from pelham, and arrested him for vagrancy because he stepped into the bronx. if you think there are bullies at city hall today, think back. is even bigger. it did not work. but the artichoke as a symbol of may oral prerogative, may oral ralempts to -- mayo prerogative, mayoral attempts to be bigger, the artichoke was an attempt to control organized crime. it did not work then, and apparently would not work today either. dis to the ultimate forgotten boroughs. 1940, woody guthrie, sitting in a manhattan hotel room, is writing a song that became very famous, "this land is your land, this land is my land, from
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california to staten island." he crossed out staten island. he crossed out staten island in that first stanza, and changed it to "the new york island." what an ultimate dis to staten island. now, did he think people would not know where staten island was, or they would forget, or whatever? they found this piece of music somewhere, and i said, what better is emblematic of forgotten boroughs than this? there is woody guthrie with his original piece of music, crossing out staten island. and most people of staten island probably do not even know it. let me tell you, in my original list in the new york times, i made a big mistake. i left out the subway token. regret it. i
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i put in the metro card. i thought that was more innovative, that showed the future. no way. i did not do that again in the book. i heard from everyone. the subway token only goes back as far as 1953. to some of you, that may be a long time. did i hear from everyone -- i heard from one woman in florida, who said she used to put subway tokens and her penny loafers instead of a penny, so she would never get lost or stuck somewhere. she would always have a token with her, in case she was ever stuck without fare. so believe me, i put that subway token, and the original one with , in the book. you can get one still, i think,
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at the transit museum. it costs a lot more than the original token. you can get the charm bracelet and everything else. there is the subway token for sure. serve you.y to it is our pleasure to serve you. where that came from -- a hungarian jewish immigrant, a holocaust survivor, designed that cup for greek diners. how he came up with that, nobody knows, but it became iconic, emblematic. .ou can buy ceramic versions it is easier to find a starbucks version of course, but that cup -- you could not have a "law and order" episode without it. it became so i'm a medic of new york, there was no way not to include it in this book. a --s called the m4
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amphorum. in greek archaeology, it was the amphora, but the man who invented it called it an "an phora," so that is what it is called in the book. i was never one to glorify graffiti. there are now art exhibits, but to me, this was a symbol of a city out of control, a city that was just the on order. one of the things they tried to do in the book as a counterpoint to graffiti was the pooper -- he saidcause that he would never get a dog because he did not want to have to pick up after it. the pooper scooper was a first attempt to regain control, to sort of reassert the social contract.
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you could make an argument that seatbelts are similar, that similar, bute are the pooper scooper, in its own way, we're telling people. there were laws about curbing your dog and things like that, but the pooper scooper at that time was the first attempt to tell new yorkers, you have a social obligation to your neighbors. you have got to pick up after your dog. you want a dog, fine. we all love dogs. great. you have got to pick up after your pet. counterpart,as a just like the dropdead headline in the daily news, which is also in the book. that,was a counterpart to which i will show you as well. glaser was asked by the state commerce department, a
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great graphic designer who worked for new york magazine, to come up with a logo for a state tourism campaign, and he did. he was riding in the cap one day, and he said, that is a better idea. he went to the state commerce department, and the commissioner said, please, no. we have got this approved. we know what it is like to go through the process all over idea, to get this approved. milne said, let me just show it to you. he showed them the idea. probably theme most copied graphic design in the world. and this is the original now in the museum of modern art, i love new york. to me, this is the counterpart "dropdead," and has become
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copied in one form or another all over the world, and emblematic of people who became fonder of new york after the 1970's, and again after 9/11 as well. , how do youwhich capture 9/11? how do you symbolize 9/11? 9/11, a jar of int, collected that day lower manhattan. who knows what is in it? who wants to know? dust ine is a jar of the collection of the new york historical society, collected at that site. and last, a little hard to see, but the madonna that survived
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hurricane sandy and the fire at 2012, a symbol may be like the jar of dust, of the city's resilience. we have been through a lot. that was maybe the worst storm in city history, and the city came back like it always has. can an object be transformative? i think you can. i think these things prove that it can. can an object be fun? i think they can. and be newy be fun ways of looking at history? ,emember, only two decades ago a wasis llama -- fukyam declaring the end of history altogether. a decade later, i remember
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watching alan bennett play "the history boys." one of the students in the play was asked to define history, to which he replied indifferently. he defined it as more or less one damn thing after another. our 17th century english-dutch dictionary bridged the gap between two distinct cultures, two distinct languages. i think of this book is sort of a literary version of the fortta stone, a template reimagining and reinterpreting the history you thought you knew, conjuring up other objects that were equally transcendent. my goal is sort of to make this a book for people who love new it, who love to hate cannot get enough of the things
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that make us new yorkers, that make us gothamites. remember, got, as mike wallace pointed out, was the english village whose name washington irving first applied to new york. ingenious inhabitants behaved so bizarrely at the early 12th century that rather than expropriate the townspeople's property, king john's taxpayers bypassed the place altogether. out-of-towners, but the town inspired this .mmortal truth "more fools pass through gotham than remain in it." my book prompted a clamor of objections, if you will, over what got left out, including
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grand central terminal. i left out pigeons, stick all bats, astickball program from a play, the inflatable rats you see at construction sites. to me, it showed metaphorically that the air had gone out of organized labor. a 15 poundgested stone pestle that a bangladeshi immigrant had brought here from bangladesh, that her mother had given her as a gift, to continue grinding fresh curry, to continue the tradition when she moved here, a going away gift. can an object be transformative? which ones work? i invite people to send their suggestions. objectsofny e-mail,
7:29 pm and let the parlor game began. thank you for coming. [applause] and i will be happy if anyone has a couple of questions. just ask them in the microphone, so we can get them on tape, if you would. any questions of things i should have put in, should have left out? >> i would like to see some of during openl map house new york, in gilmore's office. all the cross streets had so-called monuments art. someone asked what that was. the experts present said that these were surveyor's marks.
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we wondered whether any of them still existed. but you indicate that the only one still in existence is in central park. >> right. the question? they surveyor marks were put in the intersections. they were mostly stakes. many property owners ripped them out because they did not want streets going through their property, so they had to keep putting them back. none of them, as far as we know, survived. where there were stones in the intersections, they would put iron bolts in. the only one of those that we know survived is that one that is in the book that is still in central park. yes, sir. >> i think of the fraunces tavern and wall street. >> fraunces tavern would be a good site.
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it is a little bigger than a bread box. it would be a good one. and federal hall. oferal hall is the site where he was inaugurated, not the building itself. i am actually doing another book on historic buildings in new york. -- i shoulduilding know which president it was for was actually inaugurated there. i forget. i am having a senior moment. but there is one building that is still standing, where a president was actually inaugurated in new york. it is over a spice store on lexington avenue. the federal hall site is an amazing building. first of all, it is gorgeous, if any of you have not seen it. the building that was put up in 1832 is just beautiful. the site itself is so historic, because it is not only where washington was inaugurated.
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it is where the first congress met. it is where the bill of rights was passed. it is an amazing sight that merits a lot more attention than it gets on its own, for sure. wondered what the y on the subway token was for. >> y for new york city, i guess. the y in new york. you could only put one letter in, not all three. i also discovered the york in york avenue, which used to be avenue a, as a continuation of side, a in the lower east has nothing to do with new york, but was named after sergeant york after world war i. weirdo factoids that if you are in new york not like i am, you have stumbled on. good for doing crossword
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puzzles, if nothing else. yes, sir. and please, i really implore you. there may be a second volume, so objects of -- >> having not read the book yet -- >> i want test you. >> have you put any major streets in the book? >> i do not think there are street names. the only thing i can think of is that is emblematic of the grid, the cousin think the grid is very, very important. created and set the stage for the development of manhattan, not only the streets, but all the real estate. worse, the real estate development and the
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pressure, the foresight of the people in 1811, when manhattan was virtually empty, when houston street was known as north street, and they set the boundaries all the way up to 155th street, that was an incredible, farsighted thing. literally farsighted. >> did you consider the spalding? >> the spalding is there, absolutely. very much there. the company very much changed the name to the spalding. everyone called it that, and it became generic. it was actually a tennis ball in which the fuzz was not sticking. they ended up selling the mess made tennis balls, and finally people love them so much, because they bounced so high,
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they started manufacturing them without the fuzz. >> what is the most memorable item or place from brooklyn? >> i am sorry? >> from brooklyn, what is the most memorable? the most memorable item from brooklyn in the 101. >> there are a bunch of things. there is jackie robinson's glove. there is a ticket to the first crossing of the brooklyn bridge. what else? i brought a couple of things down. there is a bunch of other things. what do you see? i am trying to remember. nightis the statue of that used to be on top of penn station, that is now at the brooklyn museum. what else?
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there are a number of things. there are probably a disproportionate number of things from brooklyn. the bell at coney island that used to announce the arrival of ships from manhattan and from soft auckland that came to coney island. a whole bunch of things. >> do you have anything like 10 pound ballet or the apollo theater? >> the apollo theater has the tree of hope, the tree that used to stand outside, that is now on the stage of the apollo. day,erformers, to this rubbed the stump of the tree for good luck, even now, just before they perform. broadway, i was torn. i was trying to figure out what would symbolize broadway. and the thing that i thought was most enduring, and we can argue
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this one all night, is the , which iphantom mask thought people would recognize most, sort of emblematic we -- emblematically broadly. >> what is the one object you mention that you did not have? isn't there one you mentioned? isn't there one? >> one that -- yes. find isthat i could not the famous robbie thompson baseball. theund the bat, which is in hall of fame. but the 1951 ball that unfortunately stole the pennant from the brooklyn dodgers, no one seems to know where that ball is. theory which was
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propounded by a "wall street journal" reporter in a wonderful book is that it was caught by a nun at the polo grounds who was not supposed to be there that day, and subsequently disappeared. what was 102, the last thing you cut? corrects that is for you to decide. -- >> that is for you to decide. [laughter] of different lot people when it is. >> i have a question about research. you mentioned going to amsterdam for the letter, and finding the ticket stub of abraham lincoln. where else did your research take you? what did your research look like for this? >> research, i love, because it keeps me from having to write. what i did was go to as many people as i possibly could,
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archivists, librarians, and curators. i deal with so many people as a newspaper reporter who do not want to talk to me. when you deal with people who enjoy sharing information, like curators and librarians and museum archivists, it is just so wonderful to talk to them. so i went to them first and said, what do you think are emblematic objects? it was great hearing from them and hearing their ideas. jackson,rofessors, ken mike wallace, people like that, hillary ballin. that made it so fascinating, and reading things. i read the iconography of manhattan island, six volumes. great way to delay having to write the book. and just stumbling across things
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about new york that i never knew , factoids. elizabeth jennings -- i had never heard of this woman and her encounter with the 3rd avenue trolley. so many stories like this, so many things about new york history that i uncovered and discovered that kids ought to be learning about, and that i tried to put in this book to make it for school kids, -- make it interesting for school kids, for new yorkers and non-new yorkers alike. i hope it is fun to read. >> are there any gears in the wax museum that you feel should or should not be there? >> i do not know. i have not been to the wax museum. the hardest thing to choose was actually food items.
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i have to admit, here i exercised author's prerogative. i left out heats up, because they did not -- left out pizza, because i did not feel pizza was a new york thing. the bagel is a new york thing. it was not invented in new york, but it is very associated with new york. i left out the knish, the egg cream, the empanada, and various versions of things like that. i did include as author's prerogative the black-and-white cookie, because i happen to like the black-and-white cookie. [laughter] molly o'neill of the new york times said, and i dispute her -- she said there is no such thing as a delicious black-and-white cookie. she said they are either edible or inedible. them, andppen to like i think they are also symbolic.
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there is a seinfeld episode of the black-and-white cookie. and even president obama they are emblematic of unity. sideurse, it depends which of the cookie you eat first that says a lot about you. i thought they were worth including. and i could put one on my expense account. >> may i add something to this remark about the black-and-white cookie? i grew up in germany, and we could write these in germany, and they were called americans. >> they are called americans in germany. yes. they are called america on -- americaners, i believe. i traced them as best i could to a bakery upstate. if anyone has a better sense of these origins, i would welcome hearing it. thank you so much, and -- [applause]
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if anyone likes, i will be signing some books. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> you are watching american oftory tv, 48 hours programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. at c-spanon twitter history for information on our schedule, upcoming programs, and to keep up with the latest history news. nn compton, who recently retired as abc news white house correspondent, on her over 40 years covering the white house and the administrations of gerald ford through barack obama. >> we watched and listened to a group of second graders go through their drill.
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someone came and interrupted the president, whispered to him, and i am stunned. i wrote in my reporter's notebook, nobody interrupts the president, even in front of second graders. the president stood and said that he had to go. he went into a side room, and then we heard, we discovered, then it was two planes down, to plane crashes in new york. to theleischer came out pool in the parking lot outside the school and said, the president will come talk. i said, there are light cameras in the cafeteria. the president has to speak your. he did not want to scare the children, but he went in there and said, it is an apparent terrorist attack and i must return to washington. we went to the plane, the door slammed, and then the pentagon was hit. c-span on "u.n. day -- "q and a."
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are featuring waco, texas, home to the texas rangers museum. the texas rangers were established as a law enforcement agency to protect a newly colonized area of texas. c-span's cities tour staff recently visited many sites showcasing city history. alln more about waco weekend here on american history tv. >> it is hard to imagine an essentially a modern day town where our grandparents or great-grandparents could've lived, it wasn't that long ago in 1916, where something like this could take place. scholars called these events spectacle lynchings. they took place mostly in the late 19th century and early 20th century. one of the interesting aspects
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of this horrendous lynching is it didn't occur in some backwoods village where everybody was poor and ignorant, but it was in what "the houston chronicle" called in their editorial after the lynching "the cultured, reputable town of waco" that was known for its many institutions of higher education, including not only baylor university but two black colleges. it had the nickname of "the athens of texas" because there were so many institutions of higher education. they also had a lot of libraries. waco's society had always considered itself a little more civilized, loftier than other towns. so it was particularly ironic that in this prosperous, well-educated town with so many of life's amenities that this incident could happen. the story of the waco lynching of jesse washington in 1916 really begins with the discovery of the body of lucy fryer who was a farm woman who was his employer.


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