The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has launched a robust digital photo repository of designated buildings and historic districts spanning all five boroughs. The free-to-use and easy-to-access searchable archive, dubbed the LPC Designation Photo Collection, is geared to serve not only as a resource for journalists, armchair historians, and everyday New Yorkers curious about landmarked sites in their own neighborhoods, but also to building owners, architects, and contractors, who can download designation photos of properties when considering potential work. As noted by the LPC, these high-resolution photos were previously only available by request.
“Making LPC’s work more accessible, transparent and efficient is essential to our success and has been a priority throughout my tenure,” elaborated Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Sarah Carroll in a press statement. “The LPC Designation Photo Collection will not only allow the public to have a greater understanding and appreciation of New York City’s designated buildings and neighborhoods, but it will serve as a resource for applicants as they prepare their permit applications, which will help streamline the process.”
Searchable by building name, address, block, lot number and landmark number, the LPC Designation Photo Collection is comprised of what the agency describes as an “interesting” mix of photographic formats including 35 mm black and white photography, color slides, Polaroids, medium and large format negatives, and digital photos taken after 2004. While LPC staff photographers captured the lion’s share of photographs in the collection, others have been donated to the agency from historic preservation nonprofits and other groups. Accompanying the photos is LPC’s historic building data, which includes information for more than 37,500 buildings. As noted by the LPC, the building data enhancement includes additional search and filter functions that enable users to further refine their image search by architect, architectural style, construction date, building type, or materials.
The LPC Designation Photo Collection, which is still actively being updated, was funded in part by a grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which considers “expanding public access to archives through technology and innovation” to be a priority as Daniel Mackay, Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation, noted in a statement.
The LPC is hosting a web-based tutorial on navigating the freshly launched digital archive on September 20 at 6 p.m. Registration details can be found here. And for those ready to dive in, the archive can be accessed here.