We’re holding a conference on the long 1980s soon, but things move faster in New York—it’s the city that never sleeps—and the New Museum on the Bowery is already casting a historical eye back on the 1990s with a new exhibition, NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star. (Warning, their website is slightly annoying.)
All very well. But I’m posting about it here because they’ve organized a truly excellent piece of public history to accompany it, entitled Recalling 1993. It’s a beautifully simple idea that must have been a heck of a job to organize: dial 1-855-FOR-1993 from any public payphone* in Manhattan, for free, and hear what was happening in that neighbourhood—or even on that corner—in 1993.
The only problem is that you have to be on the island of Manhattan to take advantage of it. But there’s a sample on the website, at least, and the bridge and tunnel crowd and other non-Manhattanites can admire the idea—and even if we can’t nip down and visit the building, which opened in 2008 and is quite remarkable, we can read about it.
*Yes, I’m surprised there are so many public payphones left in Manhattan too, but there it is. A lot of them are in, or in front of, shops, I think—but here’s one that almost has room for Clark Kent to change in just down the road from the museum.