July, 21, 2015

Heirlooms of New York


Photo via Gothamist, courtesy of Madison Square Park

Storykeep’s headquarters are located in a stark but up-and-coming Brooklyn neighborhood called Gowanus. In just the few short years that we’ve been here, Gowanus has transformed from an almost entirely industrial neighborhood into one with great bars, restaurants, museums, and a burgeoning art scene.  Though this kind of restructuring and rebranding of NYC neighborhoods is common, New York, like all of us, has heirlooms: hidden treasures that remind New Yorkers where we came from and how we got here.

I came across this Gothamist article about how the Statue of Liberty was shipped from France to the United States in 350 individual pieces and then assembled. As the article points out, when the American Committee for the Statue of Liberty ran out of the money needed for construction in 1876, the arm and torch were put on display in Madison Square Park and newspapers ran a series of articles urging people to donate (an early version of crowdfunding!).

When we take the time to research our heirlooms, we uncover a depth of history within our own families that we might otherwise take for granted. The same can be said for looking a little deeper at the artifacts of New York. From the ornately designed City Hall subway station discontinued in 1945 that re-opened for viewing in February 2014, to The Cloisters museum building, built from the re-assembled remains of five European abbeys, New York exudes historical depths that divulge more meaning the more we learn about them.

In the six years that I’ve lived in New York City, it has firmly taken root as a place I inextricably call home. Just as we all grow within our own families, so do we evolve in and with the place we live. As I wander the fields of Central Park, discover hidden bookstores in the upper east side, or meander into bars built in the early 19th century, New York’s history is now linked to my own personal history. Now, when I catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, instead of seeing it as merely a recognizable symbol of NYC, I’m reminded of something bigger and more significant, without which, my home would not be the same place I know and love.

– John Eckenrode, StoryKeep Intern

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