Terrance Lindall’s “Carried Away by Night” typifies his fantastical, surreal, Bosch-ish work.
Close to the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge, though somewhat far from the trendier parts of Williamsburg, stands the impressive, imposing Kings County Savings Bank building, which dates to 1867.Since 1996, the building, in a charmingly shabby state today, has served as the home of the Williamsburg Art and Historical Center (or “WAH Center”), a moderately sized gallery space on its second floor. Continue reading “Williamsburg Art and Historical Center”
A quote from a guy who works at a set design firm based in the Navy Yard today: “This building built ships and now we build Saturday Night Live in it.”
BLDG 92 is the vowel-challenged, fascinating, historical center of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It tells the story of the Navy Yard through artifacts, an interactive tabletop, and a comprehensive timeline. Continue reading “BLDG 92 at Brooklyn Navy Yard”
In 1986, the first run of brass subway tokens with steel centers had a tiny “SJD” worked into the design. That stands for “Silvester J. Dubosz,” then Assistant Controller of the New York City Transit Authority. Mr. Dubosz ordered the tokens, and thought it would be cool to have his initials on every one. And he was fired for it. Great relic!
New York City boasts a host of institutions dedicated to preserving our history and heritage, led by the twin titans of the Museum of the City of New York and the New-York Historical Society. I described one of our history museums, the New York City Fire Museum, as the attic of the Fire Department, storing its heritage of historic treasures.
Stretching that metaphor, the quirky City Reliquary would be, not the attic of New York, but the dusty space between the attic floorboards and the downstairs ceiling, where who knows what bits and bobs find their way. Open it up and you may just find a lot of crap, but if you look from the right perspective, treasures abound.
Housed in a tiny storefront in Willamsburg, City Reliquary started as a hobby for its founder, who first created it as a display in a window in his apartment. It has grown from there as New Yorkers with collections of, well, whatever, occupied the space for exhibitions, and the Reliquary’s own collections multiplied.
The current temporary show features perhaps the most under-appreciated of the city’s street foods, the humble knish. I learned things I never thought to wonder about knishes. Where they come from (the Eastern European knish belt extends from Latvia through Moldova); who makes them (there are six “Heroes of the Knish” who are the main local manufacturers); and what it means in Yiddish slang (lady parts). Also, back in 2013 Joan Rivers tweeted that Kim an Kanye should name their baby Knish because “who doesn’t love one?” Who knew?
The rest of the space is crammed from floor to ceiling, and then some, with a dizzying assortment of this-and-that, bric-a-brac, and thingamabobs. Even the restroom threatens a case of sensory overload.
New York geology, including core samples of Manhattan bedrock.
Souvenirs and memorabilia from both the World’s Fairs.
Seltzer and other native soft drinks.
“Little Egypt,” a burlesque dancer.
A quilt commemorating the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.
The Reliquary is dense. Every time you visit, you’ll discover something new. Should you go? Those seeking a solid chronological telling of New York’s tale won’t find it there. But those looking for the quirky bits will love this place. Alternately, if you’ve explored the A-list history museums and still feel like something’s…missing, have I got a place for you!
In the end, New Yorkers will probably get more out of it than visitors. But for anyone afraid that this city has become sterile and homogenized and has lost its mojo, the Reliquary has it. It’s in one of their collection of Greek coffee cups, next to some gneiss and schist samples, on a shelf just below the collection of subway grab-holds.