The city Department of Records officially announced the debut of the photo database Tuesday. A previously unpublicized link to the images has been live for about two weeks.
Culled from the Municipal Archives collection of more than 2.2 million images going back to the mid-1800s, the photographs feature all manner of city oversight — from stately ports and bridges to grisly gangland killings.
The project was four years in the making, part of the department’s mission to make city records accessible to everyone, said department assistant commissioner Kenneth Cobb.
The gallery includes images from the largest collection of criminal justice evidence in the English-speaking world, 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 to update the municipal records, and includes more than 1,300 rarely seen images taken by local photographers of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration.
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The Online Gallery provides free and open research access to over 800,000 items digitized from the Municipal Archives’ collections, including photographs, maps, motion-pictures and audio recordings.