You can’t spend too much time in New York without noticing that New Yorkers are… well, hard to sum up in one short, snappy phrase. New York is, after all, the most American of cities, founded by the earliest colonials, and the landing pad for wave after wave of immigrants. Two idiosyncratic museums provide a glimpse into this cosmopolitan and complex world and may add a bit of perspective to what you observe on the city streets.
At the Jewish Museum, you will encounter plenty of weighty artifacts, such as a stone from a 1st-century wall erected in Jerusalem to repel Roman invaders, alongside sound and video clips from the great Jewish comedians, most of whom got their start in New York.
At the New-York Historical Society, you’ll see fascinating bits and pieces of Old New York, including 132 lamps by the city’s Tiffany Studios. Also on view are a selection of poignant exhibits from the aftermath of 9/11, including a piece of one of the planes, masks and hats used by rescue workers, and candles used during vigils when the city came together. Few mementoes of that terrible day are sadder, or more important a part of the recent history of this great city.