720,000 Newly Digitized Historic Photos Show Where New Yorkers Lived in the 1940s

The New York City Department of Records & Information Services is home to a lot of documents and photographs; from Lindsay administration memos to crime scene photos, the expansive collection draws from 50 NYC agencies. The archives are so vast that it’s taking a while to digitize everything, but they did just release 720,000 images online.

The latest photo dump brings their 1940s tax photos online; tax photographs were taken by the City’s property tax office (or rather, by freelancers which they paid via funding from the Depression-era Works Progress Administration) as part of their assessment process. All in all, they show “every house and building in the five boroughs” from the decade, according to their press rep.

Yes, you can even see your home in New York City or the home of your ancestors as it existed in the 1940s.

You can read more in an article by Jen Carlson in the Gothamist web site at: http://bit.ly/2SUwQ63.

My thanks to the several newsletter readers who wrote to tell me about this new online resource.


This is so exciting! I found my grandmother’s address in Manhattan and ordered a print. I lived with her in the early 1940s, and now I can see where I sat, with my doll, on the front stoop! Wow!!! Thank you so much for alerting us to this. I have other addresses to look for, too.


Thanks for the info.
They finally updated a good chunk of my area in Brooklyn that was missing. 🙂


Dick, thank you very much for putting this article on line. I have a 97 year old friend who lived in 6 addresses he can remember and I was able to find ALL of them. The look of joy on his face was worth the hour of my time. Thanks again.


Although this is a wonderful resource, be aware that there are some missing images. I could not find a photo of the apartment building where my aunt and uncle lived in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, so I contacted the NYC Municipal Archives, and they confirmed that the image of that address is indeed missing. I had wanted to send a link to that photo to their descendants, so I did the next best thing — I sent them a link to the Google street view image! It’s not quite the same of, course; in 1940, I doubt there were air conditioning units in the windows!
Guy I. Colby IV
Irving, TX


Someone commented that they couldn’t find Yonkers. That’s because it’s not part of the City of New York. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yonkers,_New_York


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