A photo of the West side of Amsterdam Avenue at 76th street in 1936 from the Federal Art Project. In the New York Public Library’s collection.

The New York Public Library unveiled an amazing tool on Thursday that allows users to locate old photos using a street map that can pinpoint exact locations.

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.31.12 PMThe map has dots on it that show the locations of the photos, and when you click the map it brings up the photo of that area and tells you the date. The tool does not include all of the NYPL’s collection, but it does have tons of photos, and covers just about every block in the neighborhood.

“The images all come from the New York Public Library’s Milstein Collection. While many photographers contributed to the collection, the majority of its images are the work of Percy Loomis Sperr, who documented changes to the city from the late 1920s to the early 1940s.”

So check out the map, play around with it, and let us know if you find anything surprising or exciting. Kudos to the NYPL for making great tools that bring history alive. They’ve also done some amazing things with their map collection that we wrote about here.

HISTORY | 21 comments | permalink
    1. LMR says:

      I love it!

    2. Miriam says:

      This is truly awesome! Thank you for bringing it to our attention! Btw, I have been collecting old postcards of NYC for quite some time and have quite a few of the Upper West Side, mostly along Riverside Drive. Let me know if you’re ever interested in doing a little story. I can send you pictures of them. I find them fascinating!

      • Juan says:

        Miriam – You should contact the NY Public Library and donate those pictures. I too have many photos dating back to the 20’s, and up that I am gonna let them know I have.
        What a great website!

    3. Ellie says:

      I love looking at old photos of cities – it’s amazing how empty the streets are! I was watching a film containing old footage of London in the 60s last night, and there was hardly any traffic – even in Piccadilly Circus, the Times Square equivalent. I can’t imagine what that would like now!

    4. AC says:

      Excellent find! Thanks for passing on.

    5. Lucien Desar says:

      This is awesome! it is a lot easier than searching for streets in the search tool they have because it doesn’t always works but this eliminates that need. Thank you for the link!

    6. Zulu says:

      This is so cool!

    7. katherine says:

      Love this, thanks for letting us know about it.

    8. DaHa says:

      This is fantastic. I could get lost for hours viewing these amazing pics from the past. Love old NYC pics and this is a concise way of presenting.

    9. A great collection of photos that show making and innovation are part of the spirit NYC.

    10. Jean says:

      The apartment building presumably on 88th & Broadway is actually showing 89th & Broadway. 88th street building at 215 is being built in the photo shown.

    11. lynn says:

      This is life changing. Really makes you understand how fleeting our time on this planet is. Love it!

    12. dcortex says:

      boy do i hope they invent GOOGLE street view 1969 with these pictures. Hell, I’ll take Street View 1970. How about a choice..its coming

    13. ScooterStan says:

      Re: “So check out the map, play around with it, and let us know if you find anything surprising or exciting.”

      WOW! I just found BOTH Judge Crater AND Jimmy Hoffa !!

      (just kidding)


    14. Rosanne F. says:

      Wow, this is great! Thank you so much for the link. I just spent quite a bit of time looking at UWS photos and correcting typos in the captions. OCR: good. Human eyes and brain: much better!

    15. Peter Cleary says:

      Love this. I found several pics of Barrow St and my old house!

    16. Howard Freeman says:

      Great stuff. What i would love is the history of the gargoyle on the bldg on the NW corner of 82nd Street and WEA. Anyone know?

    17. Rose says:

      I love this. It’s so nice to look back.

    18. Richard Brennan says:

      Great site. Wonderful old pics of my boyhood streets.

    19. Richard Brennan says:

      Wonderful pics of the streets I grew up on.