If you live in New York City, you likely think you’ve seen it all. Even for out-of-towners, NYC is one of the most over photographed locations in the world. It’s hard to imagine that there’s a take on the city or its history that we haven’t seen. But today, The Department of Records announced the debut of 870,000 rarely seen images culled from the Municipal Archives collection of more than 2.2 million images. The photos date back to the mid-1800s, and feature all manner of city oversight — from stately ports and bridges to grisly gangland killings. Taken mostly by anonymous municipal workers, some of the images have appeared in publications but most were accessible only by visiting the archive offices in lower Manhattan over the past few years.
The gallery includes images from the largest collection of criminal justice evidence, a repository that holds glass-plate photographs taken by the New York City Police Department. It also features more than 800,000 color photographs taken with 35mm cameras of every city building in the mid-1980s, and includes more than 1,300 rarely seen images taken by local photographers of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration.
The database is still growing, and the department plans to add more images.