Did you know Washington Square Park was at one time going to be demolished? Think about how much New York City history would be missing without it! Where would folksingers have congregated, or NYU students gone to work on film projects, or drug dealers gone to meet major clientele?
In its three quick floors, The Museum of the City of New York allows its visitors to see how New York City was created, and how it changed through the years. I think the museum does a great job of connecting pieces of NYC history in a way that’s actually ENJOYABLE. Museums aren’t normally my thing, but this one is awesome. Museums have to be eye-popping, or make me FEEL something. I have high standards, here.
The ground floor has a Landmarks exhibit that sets the stage. Walk around and read about the architectural history that interests you. This exhibit is where I learned that Washington Square Park may have been demolished at one point.
The next floor up has an Activist exhibit that starts in the 1600s and goes all the way into present day. This makes it feel like you’re learning about New York’s history, but it’s also quite relevant to today’s city.
The third floor was my fave because there were shiny things to see. First, the Gilded Age exhibit, featuring baubles from New York’s elite. Amazing to see, but also to know (from the first two floors) that at the very same time as these wealthy cosmopolitans were running around, immigrants were coming to NYC and not leading the greatest of lives. Gives you a lot of perspective. Also reminds me of Boardwalk Empire…I still need to watch that last season….
The other third floor exhibit, Folk City, was on the original Folk music and free speech movement (which got its start in WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK – SEE? The whole thing is connected). We’re talking about the original hipsters here; Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins and Woody Guthrie. This is one of the temporary exhibits though, so go before November 29th!
Other things to note:
- The Museum of the City of New York is one of those BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL museums that has suggested admission (meaning you pay what you want).
- This was an awesome place to bring my parents. My dad was obsessed with the Folk music exhibit, while my mom got to hang out with fancy Tiffany gems in the Gilded Age exhibit. Plus, the museum is right near Central Park Conservatory Gardens if you want to show them another cool little spot.
- They have a Jacob A. Riis going on now until March – pretty major seeing as his photos revealed the shitty side of New York in the early 1900s. You’ve all seen his photos, and learned about him in history class, so you need to go. So do I. I’ll see you there.
My Dad and Bob Dylan salute you and your adventures: