In the 1980s the City of New York Took 800,000 Photos of Its Buildings. Here They Are Plotted on a Map! #history #maps

From a time when whole buildings in Williamsburg were boarded up to when 2-3 storeys was as high as buildings got in some parts of Queens, oh how times have changed. 80s.nyc is one of the most interesting treasure troves of photos of New York City – not only because of the sheer volume, and their mapping, but because these were official photos taken by the City in order to levy taxes on landlords during a time when the City was in desperate need of income. Fascinating!

You can easily bounce around the visual archive by simply clicking any highlighted Street (or Avenue, or if you’re in Queens maybe it’s a Road, Drive, Way, Court, Place, Hill, or Lane).

ABOUT
80s.nyc is a map-based full street view of 1980s New York City, organizing photographs from the New York City Municipal Archives’ Department of Finance Collection into an easy-to-browse glimpse of the streetscape 30 years ago.

WHERE DO THESE PHOTOS COME FROM?
During the mid-1980s, the City of New York photographed every property in the five boroughs. The project had a bureaucratic origin: the photos were used by the Department of Finance to estimate real property values for taxation purposes. Buildings as well as vacant lots were photographed because both are taxed. Because it was difficult to distinguish while shooting between taxable and tax-exempt buildings, like religious institutions or government offices, the photographers just shot everything. The result is a remarkable body of imagery – over 800,000 color 35mm photos in both negative and print formats.

Navigate the map here.


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