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  City Hall Library Notes, JUly 2012

SPOTLIGHT ON: Department of Records Visitors Center

By Christine Bruzzese

Where can you find the original deed to Coney Island from 1654? How about the crime scene photos from the largest collection of criminal case files in the English speaking world? Lucky Luciano’s original mug shot from 1936? Just what did the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia present to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in 1996? What pioneering case for freedom of the press was tried in 1735 and where can you see the original acquittal documents? The answer: the New York City Department of Records Visitors Center.

The New York City Department of Records opened its Visitors Center on May 9, 2012. Deputy Commissioner Eileen Flannelly and her team realized their vision of a space that would not only be ideal for exhibitions and programs but also showcase the agency, its mission and the rich resources of the Municipal Archives and City Hall Library. The Visitors Center is now open to the public: Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Center comprises two rooms, adjoining the City Hall Library. The entrance to the Visitors Center is through Room 112, the main room of the Library. The Visitors Center features the following:

  • Media Room—equipped with monitors for film and documentary screenings, orientation videos, and for patrons to research the Archives’ unique film footage and audio collections
  • Exhibitions-- drawn from the rich resources of the Archives and Library, the Center features exhibitions highlighting the collections and interpreting themes and topics in New York City history.
  • Events—a downtown venue for author book-signings, lectures and other happenings
  • Education Outreach---colleges and high schools are invited to bring students to the Center for orientation classes, presentations, and educational outreach activities.
  • Conference & training space—city agencies and other organizations are welcome to host their conferences, workshops, training sessions and other special events in the Center
  • CityStore—unique products and official city merchandise.

There is so much more to discover! View Flushing Slave Manumission ledgers from 1800-1825 with original certificates of freedom. Vintage film footage of Muhammad Ali boxing on the steps of City Hall, Shirley Chisholm announcing her candidacy for the Presidency, original guide book from the 1939 World’s Fair, a program for the Billy Rose Aquacade exhibit from that same World’s Fair.

How about original 1869 drawings and watercolors of the encaustic tiles for ornamental panels under the Bethesda Terrace Arcade in Central Park? Would you like to see an original turntable used by broadcast engineers in the 1950’s at the New York City-owned radio station WNYC?

These are just a few of the fascinating materials and resources to be found at the Department of Records Visitors Center. Please be sure to come and enjoy the experience at the hours noted above and also visit the Municipal Archives and City Hall Library.

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For more info on the City Hall Library, please visit our website.

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