From Laughing Squid:
Programmer Brandon Liu and researcher Jeremy Lechtzin have created 80s.NYC, a really wonderful online collection of photos that show what all five boroughs of New York City looked like during the 1980s. [Images are now part of the NYC Municipal Archive].
The photos were taken as part of a bureaucratic process to ensure taxes were assessed properly. Liu and Letctzin organized these photos into an easily readable map that’s fun to explore.
From the 80s.NYC “About” Page
Do Photo Sets From Other Decades Exist?
Yes! At the end of the 1930s into the early 1940s, coordinated by the Federal Works Progress Administration, the City created its first set of “tax photos” – at that time, over 700,000 black & white 35mm photos of almost every building in New York. In some respects, this earlier photo set is more historically interesting – twice as old, and before the post-war construction boom (aided and abetted by Robert Moses) remade large swaths of the city.
However, only the 1980s photo set has been digitized.
Both sets have made their way from proprietary use by the Finance Department to the City’s public Municipal Archives in recent years. But even in 2017, to get access to the 1930s images, the intrepid researcher must make a trip to the Archives reference room in lower Manhattan.
Direct to 80s.NYC