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Only One. Only New York.

Only One. Only New York.

12 2 2011

New York Historical SocietyGeorge Washington’s Inaugural Armchair (1785)
“Empire State Building, N.Y.C.” Victor Perelli (1940) 


New Yorkers pride themselves on knowing the next big thing, not the fine print of their city’s history. When you’re trying to get into a restaurant that doesn’t even have a phone number, you don’t have time to ruminate on the Dutch influence over our 17th-century economy.

So, it’s reassuring to step into the newly renovated New-York Historical Society, an institution that keeps the city’s history in deep perspective. New York’s first museum (founded in 1804) instructs us in a few matters we managed to misplace in our memory: George Washington was inaugurated downtown, for instance (they’ve got the chair where he sat).

The collection is as varied as an eclectic storage unit city residents use because they lack closet space. They have a complete set of Audubon’s prepatory watercolors for Birds of America (435), the largest collection of Tiffany lamps (132) and, for good measure, Napoleon’s signed authorization for the sale of the Louisiana Territory, which is shorter than your lease.

A New York minute passes so fast — who even remembers when you couldn’t use a credit card in a cab? The New-York Historical Society is a welcome reminder that you’re not the first person who lived here at the center of the universe.

New York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
212 873 3400 / NYHISTORY.ORG



Doyle New York is not quite as famous as Sotheby’s, Christie’s or Phillips de Pury, but they have some real doozy auctions. Regular contributor David Coggins, who wrote this month’s “Present Danger,” just snagged the dapper Douglas Fairbanks Jr.’s great shoe collection at Doyle.

Coming up December 7th is the estate of Joan Crawford (who just so happens to have once been married to Fairbanks). If you’ve always wanted to dress like Mildred Pierce or Daisy Kenyon or Sadie Thompson or Mommie Dearest for that matter, you won’t want to miss this one. There are fur coats and wraps, correspondence and contracts, publicity stills and jewelry. We’ve got our eye on a Pepsi bottle brooch that was likely presented to Miss Crawford in recognition of her many years on the soft drink giant’s board of directors. It’s gold, with diamonds, rubies and emeralds, and we’re guessing that the $600 to $900 estimate is on the low side.

Doyle New York
175 East 87th Street
New York, NY 10128
212 427 2730 /

View more of our November Magazine
View more of our November Magazine