New York is an amazing city (an understatement). The newly released collection of 870 archived images actually includes a rare crime scene photographs courtesy of the city Department of Records. Reality at its worst but, you’ll also view spectacular photographs of stately bridges and street scenes that truly capture the essence of New York.

The photographs were extracted from the Municipal Archives which comprises 2.2 million images going back to the mid 1800s and feature city scenes and a unique perspective to continuum of life in the city of New York.

The amazing project took four years to complete and is part of the department’s goal to make city records available to everyone. The images were taken mostly by anonymous municipal workers and, although some have appeared in publications the bulk of the photographs could only be seen at the lower Manhattan archive offices.

Researchers including, historians, genealogists, family historians, filmmakers, are bound to find the digitized collection significant and anyone can search the images and share them through social media. You can also purchase them as prints.

Apart from the images from the largest collection of criminal justice evidence in the English-speaking world, the database also “features more than 800,000 color photographs taken with 35mm cameras of every city building in the mid-1980s to update the municipal records, and includes more than 1,300 rarely seen images taken by local photographers of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration.”

There are, however, technological and financial constraints. The digitized gallery doesn’t include the city’s prized collection of 720,000 photographs of all city buildings from 1939 to 1941. Nevertheless, the database is constantly growing, and more images will be added.

To take a look at the collection click on NYC Municipal Archives Gallery. You’ll probably need to be patient. As with the 1940 census, you might want to wait a couple of days because there has been an overwhelming demand on the city web servers to view the images.

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