NYC’s Liberty Bell on display at museum after surviving massive fire


UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — Some called it a miracle.

Remember that devastating fire in the East Village that gutted the historic Middle Collegiate church last December? Somehow the flames did not destroy it’s 290-year-old Liberty Bell.

And now it’s on display at New York City’s oldest museum, The New York Historical Society, just in time for the holiday weekend. George Washington heard the 700-pound bell ring on July 9, 1776 for the first reading in New York of the Declaration of Independence to Washington’s troops.

It pealed again in 1789 for George Washington’s inauguration. And ever since that time, New York’s Liberty Bell tolled in the belfry of Middle Collegiate Church, that is, until last December when fire destroyed the sanctuary.

The bell was brought to the New York Historical Society until renovations at the East Village church are completed.

“Imagine the bell ringing as hundreds of British ships and 30,000 soldiers across the bay in Staten island were waiting to take over New York,” Cristian Panaite, Associate Curator at the New York Historical Society, told PIX11 News. “It also rang for the inauguration and the death of every United States President and for the lives lost on September 11, 2001.”

From the same vintage as the Liberty Bell, this family carriage is newly restored and is one of only three vehicles to survive in its original condition from the 18th century.

“This coach was pretty much the pinnacle of luxury when it came to traveling around the city or to the Beekman family estate,” Panaite added.

And while at the New York Historical society, its DiMenna Children’s History Museum just reopened for the first time in 16 months since the pandemic shut it down. So children once again can learn about the women’s suffrage movement, Newsies, the orphan train, the origins of baseball and so much more in an interactive way.

On the 4th of July, the children’s museum at the New York Historical Society is free to those 17 and under.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Cristian Panaite’s last name.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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