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Times Square Toshiba-Bond-Sign-1980s-Municipal Archives-NYC

In 1939, the City began using photography to appraise building values for tax purposes. As a result, 750,000 pictures were taken of every building in the five boroughs. In the 1980s the pictures were updated, resulting in a collection of 900,000 photos. The images from the 1940s database can be accessed via the Municipal Archives reference room at 31 Chambers Street, but the 1980s collection has been digitized and made available online. Click here for instructions on how to search for a specific building and how to order a print of it.

The search image gives the opportunity for reflection: How has the New York City of today, changed from that of thirty years ago? What areas have changed dramatically, and what areas have stayed visually the same? We picked a few images, and looked at them in contrast to what appears on street view in Google Maps. Here are a few of the juxtapositions that stood out.

1378-86 Bedford Avenue

anna brown_bedford ave_untapped cities1378 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, Image via NYC Department of Records

anna brown_bedford ave_untapped cities1378 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn NY,  Image via Google Maps

2 Adams Street, Brooklyn, Under Manhattan Bridge

anna brown-untapped cities-brooklyn2 Adams Street, Brooklyn, NY, Image via NYC Department of Records

anna brown_dumbo_untapped citiesMain Street Park, 2 Adams Street, Brooklyn, NY, Image via Google Maps

24-28 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn

anna brown-untapped cities-wyckoff24-28 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn NY, Image via NYC Department of Records

anna brown wyckoff avenue untapped citiesHana Naturals Supermarket, 24 Wyckoff Avenue, Brooklyn NY, Image via Google Maps

153 W. 44th Street

anna brown_153west44thstreet_untapped cities153 West 44th Street, Manhattan NY, Image via NYC Department of Records 

anna brown_hudson theatre_untappedcitiesHudson Theatre, 153 West 44th Street, Manhattan NY, Image via Google Maps

339-43 Bowery

untapped cities_annabrown_bowery339339-43 Bowery, Manhattan NY, Image via NYC Department of Records

bowey_annabrown_untappedcities339-43 Bowery, Manhattan NY, Image via Google Maps

537-45 East 137th Street

annabrown_untappedcities_bronx537-45 East 137th Street, The Bronx NY, Image via NYC Department of Records

annabrown_untappedcities_bronx1537-45 East 137th Street, The Bronx NY, Image via Google Maps

For more then & now photos of NYC, check out this series by Jordan Liles, using some of the city’s oldest known photographs. Contact Anna Brown via her Twitter handle @brooklynbonanza.

1 Comment

  1. idkbuthereitis says:

    There’s something about the concrete jungles of the 80s and 90s though. I’m not talking about ghettos but about the common man’s daily venues. All the monotone greenish buildings with tons of advertisements and the old vehicles. I was born in ’96 but I can still relate to the way things were during that era. Though it lacked the phony vines and plants of nowadays whatever they’re called, the old buildings remind us so much about how we all looked forward to living in a big city someday, just for the fun of it. Country life was uncool back then and city was all the rage. It was the cool and hip thing. Now we all want to get out of the city and move to the rural areas and have a revival. Seriously, all the immodest, perverted, materialistic, and corrupt people in power and supposed “trendsetters” of 2010s are so full of filth that it spreads outwards and dumbs people down. The cities are the breeding ground for abominations and atheism nowadays. It’s so vile no one even cares for the cities. The liberal colleges, shops, restaurants, cafes, and schools, etc. have turned the cities into crappy looking dystopias. The boon of modernity is not there anymore but it has turned into globalism, and the globe doesn’t even exist. The earth is a terrarium, face it. But that’s not what I’m trying to say here…but the cities have been transformed into something for the dwelling of fake brent rivera looking punk gen. z populations of the future. And that guy isn’t even as half annoying as the next gen. z kid.

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