New York City Municipal Archives

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Book Reviews, Features, History, Landscape Architecture

All of the images in this post are included in “The Central Park: Original Designs for New York’s Greatest Treasure,” and are courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.

There are few things as beautiful as a sunset in Central Park, standing beside the reservoir at 90th Street, looking west, and watching the sun sink behind the San Remo then glitter through the trees on the park’s horizon, and finally melt into the water, its colors unspooling there like ink. That view, one of so many available in the park, can be credited to the meticulous planning by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, whose extraordinary vision made Central Park one of the finest urban oases on earth.

The Central Park: Original Designs for New York’s Greatest Treasure,” a new book by Cynthia S. Brenwall, out now from the NYC Department of Records, offers a closer look at that lanning process than ever before. Using more than 250 color photos, maps, plans, elevations, and designs — many published here for the very first time — the book chronicles the park’s creation, from conception to completion, and reveals the striking “completeness” of Olmsted and Vaux’s vision. “There was literally no detail too small to be considered,” Brenwall says. You’ll see the earliest sketches of familiar structures, and check out plans for unbuilt amenities (including a Paleozoic Museum!) 6sqft caught up with Brenwall to find out how the book came together, hear what it was like to cull through those incredible documents and snag a few secrets of Central Park.

Read more

City Living, History

Babe Ruth shakes the hand of actor Gary Cooper (playing Lou Gehrig) during the filming of the movie “Pride of the Yankees” in 1942. The scene is a recreation of “Gehrig Appreciation Day” on July 4, 1939 when Gehrig retired due to his diagnosis with ALS; Via NYC Municipal Archives

To celebrate the start of the baseball season this week, the city’s Department of Records & Information Services released a series of artifacts and historic photos for sale. From architectural drawings of Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field to photos of Babe Ruth at the 1936 World Series, the images provide a look back at our national pastime’s origin in New York City.

How to buy them

History

If you’ve ever tried to research an old building–to find out the history of your home for renovation purposes or just to see what it used to look like–you may have found yourself tasked with a trip to the Municipal Archives for an in-person search or having to order up a large, glossy photo by mail, sight unseen. Access to one of the city’s most thorough documentation efforts, the black-and-white tax photos taken of every building in the city between 1939 and 1941, just got a lot easier, as Brownstoner reports. The New York City Department of Records & Information Services has released 720,000 digitized images made from the original negatives, meaning that a photograph of every building in the city that was standing at the time is now available to look up online.

Check it out

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