Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Three Museums of Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan is so narrow in width, that much can be seen in one full day. The following is information about three museums located within easy walking distance of each other. First, is the New York City Police Museum, located at 100 Old Slip.

Some information from their web site:

"The Police Museum gives visitors an insider’s look at the history and traditions of the largest police force in the country and its role in the history of New York City. With artifacts that date all the way back to the Dutch settlers, visitors can discover the impact of the NYPD over the last three centuries. They will find out the reason police precincts around the nation are marked with green lights outside their doors, why officers are called “cops,” why their bosses are called “brass” and which came first, the Model T or the Highway Unit?

Visitors will hear the moving stories of officers responding to the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001 and learn how the NYPD now works beyond the borders of New York City to ensure the safety of every citizen.

They will also view the shields of every officer killed in the line of duty since 1845, and can contemplate the bravery and dedication it takes to be one of New York's Finest.

Kids always uncover something cool at The New York City Police Museum. They can test out the sirens used in an NYPD patrol car, take their friend’s “mug shot” in a police line-up and see what life is like on the other side of the bars in a real jail cell. On display in the Weapons and Notorious Criminals exhibit are Al Capone’s Tommy gun, and infamous bank robber Willie Sutton’s handmade lock-picking kit. Baseball fans will discover the origin of the New York Yankees logo in the original NYPD Medal of Valor."

This museum is housed in an original 99 year old police station, a very narrow building three stories tall.

It is a very interesting place to visit, even if no one in your family is involved in law enforcement, as you will learn quite a bit early vintage New York City history, and quite a bit about the city's agencies response on the tragic day of 9/11 through their exhibit, entitled "United Response: Commemorating 9/11." It features over 55 still and multi media images drawn from the collections of the New York Police Department Photo Unit, the New York Times, and the New York Daily News, highlighting extraordinary acts of heroism and courage and touching moments of generosity and kindness in New York City on that day.

The second museum is The National Museum of the American Indian, which is located in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, a magnificent Beaux-Arts building with a grand front staircase. It is located at One Bowling Green, between State St. and Whitehall St., adjacent to the northeast corner of Battery Park and just below Bowling Green Park.

The National Museum of the American Indian is the sixteenth museum of the Smithsonian Institution. It is the first national museum dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans. Established by an act of Congress in 1989, it comprises three facilities, one in New York, Maryland and Washington DC; each was designed following consultations between museum staff and Native peoples.

As you enter, you walk through a magnificent rotunda, with its elliptical 140-ton skylight and multicolored marbles. There are some exhibits which tell about the period of time that this building was used as a custom house, over 100 hundred years ago. There is a wonderful 20 minute high band with WMV video about the building here, that I hope you will be able to view, but in any event it is well worth coming to visit this building if you are a fan of beautiful architecture, just to admire it! There are some wonderful picture galleries of the murals, studios, statues and architecture here.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, housed on its first three floors, and the exhibits are always changing. Presently, "Listening to Our Ancestors:The Art of Native Life Along the North Pacific Coast" is on display until July 20, 2008.

Not a museum, but still of great photographic interest, is "Charging Bull" at Bowling Green Plaza. (customs house in the far background). After a fall of the Stock Market index in 1989, sculptor Arturo Di Modica illegally placed this huge bull (the symbol of an up market) outside the New York Stock Exchange. The sculpture was so popular it was moved to this location, where it remains on extended loan.

The last museum in this entry will be Fraunces Tavern, New York's oldest surviving building located at 54 Pearl Street, which has witnesses three centuries of American history!

( I'm sorry I could not get a better picture than this, but the streets are very narrow in this part of the city, and a big US Mail truck was parked outside the front entrance blocking the view.)

George Washington and other American leaders gathered at this tavern to celebrate the evacuation of the British from New York on November 25, 1783. Washington visited again on December 4th for a farewell banquet with his officers. After Washington became president, the tavern's owner, Samuel Fraunces, served as his chief steward in New York. Today Fraunces Tavern houses a museum as well as a restaurant.

A major part of the museum's collection is from the Revolutionary War period including weapons, documents, and historic relics --such as a lock of Washington's hair and one of his false teeth! Another portion of the collection is made up of art inspired by the events and characters of the Revolution, and early American and New York City history.

There are also changing exhibits, and two currently being shown until December 31, 2008, are:"If These Walls Could Talk:54 Pearl Street" and "Heroes".

There are many other museums in lower Manhattan, all of them interesting and worth visiting if you enjoy history. For a list, click here and click "museums" in the left sidebar, and scroll through the fascinating list.

Next post, I'll finally take you along on my Big Onion Walking Tour of the old "Five Points" of New York City.

Thanks for all the compliments about my being a good tour guide. I love my city, so it is a pleasure for me to learn more about it and share it with all of you!


Kari & Kijsa said...

What a great tour! We didn't know about the Frances Tavern- fascinating!! Loved the photos!!

kari & kijsa

willow said...

I grew up in a law enforcement family. I would love the police museum. Nice photos, nice tour, Pat. I am enjoying these posts so much!

Beverly said...

The Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House is such a beautiful building.

I know I keep telling you how much I am enjoying your posts, but you just can't imagine. So much of our country's history transpired in NY. These posts are like a treasure trove of knowledge and inspiration.

Junie Moon said...

Your "travel" series is such a wonderful celebration of New York. I love museums and need to plan about a gazillion trips to your city just to see all these things for myself that you've shared. Thank you again!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

For the oldest building in NYC, the Tavern is doing very well, isn't it? There must be ongoing restoration projects...

Yes, we love our own little tour guide and I can tell that you do love your city. You're an excellent spokesperson for New York.

Mrs. B said...

Another wonderful and informative post. That old customs building is absolutely beautiful! I guess when I finally get to go to NYC I'm going to have to plan a very long visit!

tumbleweed said...

found you via a sidestep from Willow Manor...great blogsite!

Tara said...


Whenever I get into the city again, I am bringing my laptop and your blog! hee-hee!


Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

I love coming here! I have always wanted to spend time in NYC and you have given me a chance to do so!
p.s. I remember when I lived in upstate NY I never planted anything until Memorial Day weekend...

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Pat!
I'm so glad to be back! Thank you for your prayers! Things are going better (see new post) so God has been very good to us. I have really enjoyed escaping on your journeys in your recent posts! They are great posts! And I love the new grand kitties and grand puppy on your side bar, what cuties!!
Hugs, Sherry

Rue said...

I would LOVE to be able to go to the Fraunces Tavern! Oh the history! Absolutely wonderful tour Pat :)

reading more...

KarenHarveyCox said...

Good to know that the Frances Tavern is still there, I haven't been back downtown in many years. My good friend from the UK and I watched Princess Di get married from that Tavern. Karen

Lisa B. said...

Oh no...I'm falling behind on the tour! I really love the Custom House. I wonder how many museums there are in NYC. It seems like you could spend years trying to see them all. Thanks again Pat!