Analog City: New York B.C. (Before Computers) Opening Weekend

Fri May 20, 2022
10:00am to 5:00pm ET
5 and up
Free with museum admission
Museum of the City of New York

A new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York takes visitors on a visit to pre-digital New York and presents more than 100 photographs and once-pioneering objects, from rotary phones to pneumatic tubes. Visitors can try typewriters, rotary phones, card catalogs, and more, while learning how these innovations paved the way for industry.

Analog City is divided into four sections, each highlighting a key industry and aspect of life before computers:

Hot off the Presses showcases the significant role newspapers, in particular The New York Times, played in covering the globe with up to the minute news - in an era before email and digital communications. While the fastest-growing newspapers invested in staffing desks worldwide to maintain on-the-ground connections across every corner of the globe, local news sources in immigrant communities sparked an unprecedented global information-sharing network. This section also includes a giant linotype and teletype machine, showcasing the process of how individual news stories became the printed newspaper each day.

A Democracy of Information delves into the city’s public library system, which utilized a full array of communication tools, including card catalogs, pneumatic tubes, telephones, and a fleet of trained staff members and librarians. NYC’s mammoth library networks fed the creative engine of the city and its voracious hunger for literacy and learning in the 20th century. In an era when the city was growing and diversifying at a record rate – and technological advancements brought an onslaught of new visual and printed material for researchers and those who sought knowledge and literacy – the city’s networks of libraries across the five boroughs struggled to keep pace with demand and the influx of materials to be maintained and accessed.

Trading at the Speed of Paper explores New York’s financial center, the New York Stock Exchange, and how it operated before Bloomberg terminals and digital trading. While New York has long been the financial center of the United States, in the 20th century the New York Stock Exchange grappled with ever-increasing volumes and the need for real-time information. As the engine of the market sped up in the analog age, communications technologies strained under the demand for speed and the sheer amount of trading in the heart of New York’s financial district – a center of commerce that was increasingly tied to a global network.

Scaling the City examines how New York’s skyscrapers and iconic infrastructure were built with pencils, erasers, and drafting tables. As industry boomed, so too did the demand for space – creating a growing industry of modernizing architectural firms that would transform the city’s skyline without the aid of computer modeling or calculations. This era of skyscrapers and infrastructural investment transformed the density and verticality of New York City.

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