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Photographic history
April 25, 2012 12:43 PM   Subscribe

NYC's Department of Records has officially announced the debut of its photo database, releasing 870,000 photos of the city and its operations to the public. Here are some of the best ones. Here is the link to the gallery itself (though good luck getting in right now).

"Culled from the Municipal Archives collection of more than 2.2 million images going back to the mid-1800s, the photographs feature all manner of city oversight -- from stately ports and bridges to grisly gangland killings."
posted by Phire (29 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
For anyone else who doesn't want to give the daily fail any pageviews, here are some other links to the same photoset:

huffpo

usa today
posted by elizardbits at 12:53 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tried for hours to get in yesterday without success. The photos showing up elsewhere on the web in reports about this are impressive. I'm hoping the free versions of the images are large enough to be studied and enjoyed, i.e. aren't tiny thumbnails or blurred by watermarks or whathaveyou.
posted by gubo at 12:59 PM on April 25, 2012


The Mayor's Office (I followed it for Irene and so lazy. So, so lazy) tweeted that the other day and I'm glad to see it's still broken. Although it's good to see that they have an actual error message up. Yesterday afternoon it just tried to redirect me to a long string of seemingly random letters. Something like "nmrngnmbnganaefnamsf.nyc.gov" IIRC.
posted by griphus at 1:01 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Over 800,000 color photographs were taken with 35-mm cameras for tax purposes. Every New York City building in the mid-1980s can be viewed in this collection.

Once the servers recover, this is going to be great.
posted by zamboni at 1:03 PM on April 25, 2012


Incredible. I love the huge Yiddish sign in one photo in the HuffPo slideshow (it won't let me link directly). Who owns the copyright to these?
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:03 PM on April 25, 2012


heh...my wife and I just got married at the last of the best ones. It looks nicer these days...
posted by slapshot57 at 1:08 PM on April 25, 2012


These are incredible. I love this one of the Manhattan Bridge during construction. Reminds me of Cathedral Park underneath St. Johns Bridge near Portland (which I wish so much was actually located in the city).
posted by Corduroy at 1:13 PM on April 25, 2012


Who owns the copyright to these?

Isn't that the parenthetical info listed next to every photo? (no snark, I'm genuinely wondering as I've always assumed this was the case)
posted by elizardbits at 1:15 PM on April 25, 2012


just a heads up, couple dead people in these photos
posted by nathancaswell at 1:16 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


These are incredible. I love this one of the Manhattan Bridge during construction.

That looks like a Crisis on Infinite Earths panel.
posted by griphus at 1:17 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, the one at The HuffPo link has the AP symbol. i'd guess that for commercial purposes there will be a way to license and for all others, the City will sell you amprint.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:19 PM on April 25, 2012


A print.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:19 PM on April 25, 2012


just a heads up, couple dead people in these photos

I think the majority of the people in these photos are dead.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:32 PM on April 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Time for coffee. I read this as "NYC's Department of Records has officially announced the debut of its potato database".
posted by stoneweaver at 2:02 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, the one at The HuffPo link has the AP symbol.

It's odd. I think they are via AP, because the AP put some out on the wire.
posted by smackfu at 2:05 PM on April 25, 2012


Over 800,000 color photographs were taken with 35-mm cameras for tax purposes. Every New York City building in the mid-1980s can be viewed in this collection.

That's.... really fucking impressive. EVERY building?

Someone should see what this guy thinks about this, and how it might influence or aid him in his endeavors.
posted by hippybear at 2:20 PM on April 25, 2012


"Due to overwhelming demand, the New York City Municipal Archives Online Gallery is experiencing temporary difficulties. Please try again later."

Damn, that didn't last long.
posted by -t at 2:29 PM on April 25, 2012


Hats.

There was a time not very long ago that no man and especially no woman would even think of leaving the house without a hat.

I've wondered about that, and so several times did some web-searchy research, why hats and especially why did we stop, and that in itself is worthy of its own FPP.

Having said that: BRIDGES. NYC Bridges. Another amazing, deep and wide subject of recent American history.

sorry I just miss my dad's and my granddad's NYC
posted by sidereal at 3:29 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The huge yiddish sign is not what it seems--it is almost entirely English written with yiddish characters:
extra naies(new) in dee east side
ain(a) grosser(great) bankrupt sale fun(of) $15000 vare(ware)
FUN(OF) MEN'S FARNISHING
muz(must) ausferkoift(sold) veren(within) 15 tag(day)
kumt(come) und(and) koift(but) groise(great) bargins
vare(ware) vird ferkoift(will be sold) ? halbe(half) prices. kumt und oybertzaint aich(come and convince yourself)

I put translations in parens, but the bare words are just sounded out.
I'm not sure vare for wares is yiddish or not.
posted by hexatron at 4:39 PM on April 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


"wahr" (with w pronounced as an english v) in German is "true"... Yiddish is closely related to German, so there could be a cross-over in there someplace. Or maybe it's a pun.

You probably have it correct.
posted by hippybear at 4:53 PM on April 25, 2012


The two crime scene photos have an interesting history to themselves. Luc Sante wrote a book about them ("Evidence"). They were early attempts at crime detection, involving a camera on a special tripod that took pictures straight down, giving them an eerie effect (beyond that of them being dead, of course).

The glass plates had been stored in the archives for decades, then preserved by being thrown into the river. Someone came across them (Luc? Can't remember) and salvaged them. Sante then published the book and tried to piece together the stories behind them.

Anyone who wants to see what it was like to live in pre-World War I times, from the wooden shack by the railroad tracks to a working-class couple, should get this book (if you can stomach the sight of dead people). Utterly compelling.
posted by Bill Peschel at 5:39 PM on April 25, 2012


Ah, i see the USA Today story mentions Luc at the end. Good.
posted by Bill Peschel at 5:41 PM on April 25, 2012


Anyone who wants to see what it was like to live in pre-World War I times, from the wooden shack by the railroad tracks to a working-class couple, should get this book (if you can stomach the sight of dead people). Utterly compelling.

Or just wait until 10 years after the Paul Ryan budget passes and you'll be able to get new, similar photographs.
posted by hippybear at 5:43 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hats. You need them to keep warm when it's cold, and to keep the sun off your head when it's hot. I have a straw hat and it really seems to keep my head a bit cooler on a hot day.
posted by freakazoid at 6:05 PM on April 25, 2012



I think AP is going to rep these for commercial use or if you want to buy a print, and there's the mandatory credit on a number of the photos.

(AP Photo/New York City Municipal Archives, Department of Bridges/Plant & Structures, Eugene de Salignac)


The Muni Archives aren't going to get in to the business of selling prints, and AP probably made the city a good deal.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:02 PM on April 26, 2012


Unfortunately that kind of arrangement often means that hi-res digital copies aren't available, because "people can just print them out themselves." Hopefully that isn't the case here.
posted by smackfu at 2:20 PM on April 26, 2012


In Focus (MeFi's own) has rounded up a breathtakingly awesome selection of highlights.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:39 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]




Well, the database is up, but it's still a little slow. The tax photos are there, but they're tiny thumbnails - you can zoom in, though.

6th Ave. and 40th St, May 1940.
The same corner today.


I think that this is 6th and 40th in the 1980s. Locals?
posted by zamboni at 12:19 PM on May 4, 2012


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