The New York Public Library has been creating some amazing digital tools in the past couple of years. The library wants more of its collection to be available to anyone with a computer or hand-held device, so it’s been digitizing its old maps and photos and presenting them in ways that make it easy for people accustomed to Google Maps and Streetview. In fact, its eventual goal is to allow people to travel back in time as if Google Maps had existed since the 19th century.
Last month, the library unveiled a Maps By Decade tool that lets people place old maps over the current street grid, and search by decade and neighborhood. They had made similar tools available before but never with this kind of handy decade-by-decade design.
It’s useful for anyone researching a neighborhood, or for anyone who is simply interested in what things once looked like.
Take the map below showing Broadway and West End in the West 90’s circa 1916. Here’s a closeup:
Ah, theaters, summer gardens and roof gardens! That was the life.
And because it’s part of a larger street grid, you can put the map in context and find other maps that show how the block changed throughout the years.
And here’s what that block in the photo at the top of this post looks like now: