Best place to donate your old bubble gum collection (or best-dressed window museum) - 2006
The City Reliquary began as a modest window display of subway tokens in Dave Herman's old street-level apartment, but it quickly grew into a neighborhood nexus where people came to share personal reflections and collections inspired by the five boroughs. Soon, people were leaving offerings in the plants and on the doorstep, so Herman decided to rent a public space a few blocks away that could serve as a "watercooler" for "natives, newcomers, and passersby." The windows of the new Reliquary—which provide a glimpse into the private lives and secret obsessions of fellow New Yorkers—currently feature Steve Gerberich's impressive dipstick collection and a nostalgic arrangement of argyle socks hanging on clotheslines. Inside, you will find the Reliquary's permanent collection: an old subway door, a wall of antique Statue of Liberty postcards, a brass ring from the Coney Island carousel, a railroad spike from a forgotten line, a 2nd Avenue Deli sandwich pick, tiny Chinatown dolls made of clay, a light fixture from Streit's matzo factory, an old nightstick, a collection of seltzer bottles, a collection of defunct subway maps, obsolete school textbooks, Brooklyn-brand chewing gum, plastic whistles, local-made beer labels, chunks of the Flatiron and Hearst buildings, stalactites from the New York City aqueduct system, river-tumbled bottles from Dead Horse Bay, candy from the local bodega, and a Nathan's fork, among hundreds of other things. While not every artifact in the Reliquary is old and storied ("New Acquisitions" offers present-day things that may soon become relics), the exhibits conjure a mood that is very specifically and lovingly New York. The Reliquary still puts out chairs in the summer months, provides community bathtub gardens on the sidewalk, and hosts several block parties each year and, while it is now organized by a diverse board of volunteers, it remains stridently "for the people—not for profit." That means when you buy a collection of soil samples from the five boroughs as a souvenir, you are not lining Herman's pockets, but rather saving him from hocking the collections to pay the rent.