What makes something distinctly New York City? What items, works of art, and historical relics best embody this dirty town? Recently we asked several NYC institutions what the most distinctly NYC item in their collection might be—first up was the Museum of Modern Art, and below you'll find the New-York Historical Society's highlight.
A rep for the NYHS told us their most New York City item is Stewart Studio's graffiti door, an actual metal door circa the 1970s. Here's some background they provided us:
Vision, or vandalism? New Yorkers had different reactions to the “tags” scrawled on subway trains in the 1970s. Many saw them as a sign of urban blight. Artist and photographer Jack Stewart saw them as a new American art form.
Stewart befriended many of the young graffiti writers, who by 1973 gathered regularly in his studio. Recognizing their irrepressible urge to mark every surface, he offered the inside of his bathroom door as a canvas, with the understanding that they’d leave the rest of his studio untouched. The door is a remarkable relic of 1970s New York City, preserving the new art form that grow out of adversity.
The Stewart Studio graffiti door is currently on view at the New-York Historical Society, and a pretty cool thing is that it sits alongside an interactive display that asks visitors to cast their vote on what other modern objects the Museum should preserve.
For now, you can get a larger view of it right here.