80s.nyc, a Website That Let's You Google StreetView 1980's New York City Streets

80s.nyc (screenshot)
80s.nyc (screenshot)
Photo: 80s.nyc

80s.nyc is a cool new website which uses old property photos from the publicly accessible digital archives of the New York City Department of Finance to create a Google StreetView-like map showing what New York City looked like block-by-block in the 1980s. The photos were originally taken to assess property value, a common practice in the City since the 1930s, yet only the ones taken in the mid-80s and beyond were digitized.

Over 5 years in the mid-1980s, the City of New York photographed every property in the five boroughs. The project had a bureaucratic origin: the photos would be used by the Department of Finance to estimate real property values for taxation purposes. Buildings as well as vacant lots were photographed, as they’re both taxed - and because it was difficult to distinguish while shooting between taxable and tax-exempt buildings like religious institutions or government offices, the photographers just shot everything. The result was a remarkable body of imagery – over 800,000 color 35mm photos in both negative and print formats.

Check out the full interactive map to see what your neighborhood really looked like in the 1980s.

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