New York at Its Core

New York at Its Core is a major, multi-media exhibition on New York City’s sweeping 400-year history of growth and transformation opening November 18, 2016, at the Museum of the City of New York.

New York at Its Core

What made New York New York? Follow the story of the city’s rise from a striving Dutch village to today’s “Capital of the World,” and consider its future in our changing world.

New York at Its Core is a major, multi-media exhibition on New York City’s sweeping 400-year history of growth and transformation opening November 18, 2016, at the Museum of the City of New York.

Framed around the key themes of money, density, diversity, and creativity, New York City’s history comes alive in this first-of-its-kind exhibition, through the stories of innovation, energy, struggle, and the vision of generations of immigrants, politicians, tycoons, dreamers, master builders, and ordinary New Yorkers.

New York at Its Core captures the human energy that drove New York to become a city like no other, featuring the city’s “big personalities” – among them, Alexander Hamilton, Walt Whitman, “Boss” Tweed, Emma Goldman, JP Morgan, Fiorello La Guardia, Jane Jacobs, and Jay-Z. The stories of lesser-known New York personalities, like Lenape chieftain Penhawitz and Italian immigrant Susie Rocco, also figure prominently in the exhibition, as do some of the furred and shelled residents who shaped the city’s economic and daily life -- among them, the pig, the beaver, and the oyster.

Through more than 400 objects, many from the Museum’s rich collection, as well as interactive digital experiences, you will dive deep into the city’s past and create your own visions for its future.

The Museum of the City of New York is located at 220 Fifth Ave at 103rd St and is open daily from 10am to 6pm (Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day). The suggested donation for admission is $14.

The multiple galleries of New York at Its Core include:

Travel back to the time of Henry Hudson’s voyage into New York Bay and follow the story of the city as it grew into the nation’s economic and cultural capital, on the shores of the Western Hemisphere’s busiest harbor.

Learn about more than 150 key objects from this period, including a ceremonial war club from the native people of the area, the Lenape; a slice of a wooden pipe that formed the original water system of the city; and William M. “Boss” Tweed’s gold tiger-headed cane.

Alongside these striking, one-of-a-kind artifacts, experience innovative interactive installations where you’ll “meet” New Yorkers of the past – from Henry Hudson and Alexander Hamilton to Chinatown pioneer Wong Chin Foo and anarchist Emma Goldman.  Discover what has changed and what has stayed the same as you take in digital projections of historic New York streetscapes that fade into contemporary views of the same scenes, created by New York photographer Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao.

The Museum of the City of New York will open New York at its Core on November 18, 2016.
Here, a team of curators and photographer Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao present a behind-the-scenes peek
of the exhibition in the making, and describe the transformations and quintessential New York spirit
present in one Bronx vista from 1868 to today.


In the exhibition’s second gallery, witness the dizzying evolution of New York as it grew into the modern global metropolis we know today. During the 20th century, cycles of financial growth and crisis continually reshaped the city’s economic, cultural, and social life, as did the influx of new waves of people from across the country and around the world. Steep challenges – extreme poverty and slum conditions, the Great Depression, the fiscal and urban crises of the postwar era, crumbling infrastructure and rising prices, and the terrorist attacks of 9/11 – tested and ultimately affirmed the creativity and resilience of the residents of a teeming metropolis that had become the most influential city in the world.

Explore nearly 300 historic objects and images and a central video installation immersing visitors in the rhythms and dynamism of the 20th-century city through vivid, overlapping moving pictures. At a touchscreen station, you’ll find the moving silhouettes of notable people who embody the exhibition’s themes of money, density, diversity and creativity, ranging from industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to music entrepreneur Jay-Z.


In this cutting-edge interactive space, explore five central challenges and opportunities that New York will face in coming generations:

Making a Living: What can we do to provide economic opportunities for the next generation?

Living Together: How can we foster a more inclusive city?

Housing a Growing Population: How can we meet the housing needs of New Yorkers?

Living with Nature: How can New York City enhance its natural environment and cope with climate change?

Getting Around: How can we make it easier for people to get into and around the city?

The Future City Lab gives you the opportunity to interact with these issues, and to imagine the city’s future by designing a street, a building, and a park. Also on view are street photography by Joseph Michael Lopez depicting how the challenges we face are manifested in the city’s grid, and a newly commissioned work by video artist Neil Goldberg featuring interviews with New Yorkers on their fears and hopes for the city’s future.