Author Archives: FRIENDS

Join FRIENDS for Winter 2019 Events!

Shaped by Immigrants: A History of Yorkville Book Talk

Calling all Yorkville fans! Did you miss FRIENDS of the Upper East Side’s launch party for our new book Shaped by Immigrants: A History of Yorkville? Dynamic and Educational, Shaped by Immigrants is a fully illustrated history of the physical development and immigrant roots of this quintessential New York City neighborhood.  This original publication, researched and written by FRIENDS, uncovers the compelling story of Yorkville’s past as a home to Czechoslovakian, German, Hugarian, Irish and other immigrant groups, and places that history against the backdrop of representative buildings remaining today where immigrants lived, worked, shopped, and prayed. Join Rachel Levy and Sara Kamillatos from FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts for an early-evening book talk and screening of our companion mini-documentary, both of which explore the heritage of this neighborhood and its beloved buildings. Books will be available to purchase for $30, with a special discount for current members of FRIENDS.

Co-sponsored by Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts and the NYPL Webster Library Branch.

Tuesday, February 5th 
5:30 p.m.

Webster Library
1465 York Avenue

Free and open to the public. Advance registration is required.
To verify your current membership status, please call 212-535-2526
or email us at

 Click HERE to register

Behind the Scenes at the Explorers Club

Image Credit: The Explorers Club

In 1904, The Explorers Club was founded as an international, multidisciplinary, professional organization dedicated to the advancement of field research, scientific exploration, and to the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. In the century since, The Explorers Club has played a significant role as the premier meeting place for explorers and scientists worldwide who have pushed the limits of discovery and human endurance. Club Members have attained incredible feats, including our “Famous Firsts” such as First to the North Pole (1909), First to the South Pole (1911), First to the Highest Point on Earth (Mt. Everest, 1953), and First to the Surface of the Moon (1969). Join Archivist and Curator of Research Collections Lacey Flint for a behind-the-scenes tour of the club’s Neo-Jacobean headquarters built originally for art collector Stephen C. Clark and explore its extraordinary collection of books, manuscripts and rare artifacts.

Wednesday, February 27th
6:00 p.m.

The Explorers Club
46 East 70th Street

$15 FRIENDS members, $25 non-members
To verify your current membership status, please call 212-535-2526
or email us at

 Click HERE to register


Memories of Yorkville’s “Kleindeutschland:”
an Exhibit and Lecture

In a time when New York City was home to the third-largest population of German speakers in the world, Yorkville — and 86th Street in particular — was known for its German immigrant community of artisans, butchers, brewers, and shopkeepers. Join local historian and lifelong Yorkville resident Kathy Jolowicz of the Yorkville/Kleindeutschland Historical Society, as she presents her pictorial exhibit on the history of this neighborhood once known as the Upper East Side’s “Kleindeutschland” or Little Germany. The exhibit is a nostalgic exploration of Yorkville’s history with a particular focus on her personal memories that evoke the village feel of the area’s German heyday with reminiscences of famous restaurants, ethnic shops, dance halls, schools, churches, and a common language. Photography will not be permitted at this event.

Born in 1939 to immigrants from Leipzig, Germany, Kathy Jolowicz was raised and schooled in Yorkville/Kleindeutschland. She is an Upper East Side community leader dedicated to keeping the German heritage alive as a Division Marshall, and PR Committee member of the German American von Steuben Parade, as well as the founder of the German Language Learning Club.

Saturday, March 9th
1:00 p.m.

St. Jean Baptiste High School
173 East 75th Street

$15 FRIENDS members, $25 non-members. 
To verify your current membership status, please call 212-535-2526
or email us at

 Click HERE to register_


Archbishop John Hughes and the Making of Irish America: a Book Talk

Yorkville and the Upper East Side are well known throughout their respective histories for a mix of Gold Coast Patricians to the west as well as German, Czech, Slovak and Hungarian immigrants to the far-east. However, dispersed throughout both of these areas between opulent Fifth Avenue and the commercial and industrial East River waterfront was a large population of Irish Immigrants and their families through the 19th and early 20th Centuries. This event will shed a light on the lives of Irish Americans on the Upper East Side and other parts of Manhattan through the lens of the history of Archbishop John Hughes, a nearly mythic figure and Irish community leader.

Acclaimed biographer and local Upper East Side instructor John Loughery will give a lecture based on his recent book Dagger John: Archbishop John Hughes and the Making of Irish America. “Dagger” John Hughes was an infamous Irish-American figure who — in the face of bias against the Irish community — was an organizer, community advocate, and fiercely outspoken evangelist representing the Irish in America. Between founding Fordham University, a Jesuit Catholic University in the Bronx, and demanding the construction of the now-cherished St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown, Hughes was a revered (and feared) power broker for his community in Manhattan and beyond. Books will be for sale following the talk.

Co-sponsored by Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts and The American Irish Historical Society

Wednesday March 20th 
6:30 p.m.

American Irish Historical Society
991 Fifth Avenue

$15 FRIENDS and AIHS members, $25 non-members 
To verify your current membership status, please call 212-535-2526
or email us at

Click HERE to register


Save the Date!
FRIENDS’ 36th Annual Meeting & Awards

Mark your calendars! We are pleased to hold our 36th Annual Meeting & Awards Ceremony at The Cosmopolitan Club. The Regency Revival-style building was designed by architect Thomas Harlan Ellett in 1932 and is a fitting setting to recognize the fine restoration, renovation, and advocacy work on the Upper East Side over the past year.

Tuesday, March 26th
6:30 p.m.

The Cosmopolitan Club
122 East 66th Street

Free for FRIENDS members, registration coming soon. 
To verify your current membership status, please call 212-535-2526
or email us at

These programs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Another Win for First Avenue Estate

NYS Court of Appeals Denies Stahl Appeal!

In the Spring of 2017, FRIENDS led the effort of local and national preservation groups, along with elected officials, to file an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the City of New York in the ongoing battle to stop the demolition of two historic buildings, part of the City and Suburban Homes First Avenue Estate. The full block complex of tenement buildings was constructed in 1915 by the City and Suburban Homes Company, and designated as an individual landmark for the significance of its design and pioneering role in social housing reform. Home to longtime tenants of modest income, these buildings continue to be a source of affordable housing on the Upper East Side. 

New York City and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) have won another hard-fought victory in their efforts to preserve the First Avenue Estate! Last week, the NYS Court of Appeals denied Stahl’s motion to appeal the lower court’s May 2018 ruling which once again upheld the LPC’s denial of hardship. The appeal was dismissed upon the grounds that no substantial constitutional question is directly involved. This new decision has further refuted Stahl’s claims that the property could not be profitable in its current form.

Stahl had also previously attempted to appeal the case at the federal level, but was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2016. Like the groundbreaking Penn Central case of 1978, this opinion affirms the City’s right to regulate landmark-designated properties as a benefit to “all New York citizens… and quality of life in the city as a whole.”  It is possible for Stahl to appeal the state case to the U.S. Supreme Court as well, and they have 90 days in which to do so. FRIENDS will remain vigilant and will continue to provide updates in the case of further legal action.

FRIENDS is proud of its longstanding leadership role in this issue, and
we are grateful to the many partners who joined us in filing the
latest amicus brief and contributing to this victory!

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney
State Senator Liz Krueger
State Asssembly Member Rebecca Seawright
City Council Member Benjamin Kallos
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Preservation League of New York State
The Municipal Art Society of New York
New York Landmarks Conservancy
Historic Districts Council
Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
Landmark West!
Friends of the First Avenue Estate

We are also enormously grateful to the tenants, neighbors, advocates, and elected officials who have worked tirelessly over many years on this hardship case. Thanks especially to those who contributed financially to our effort. 

For more information, visit FRIENDS’  First Avenue Estate web page
for a timeline of this ongoing case and links to additional articles about this site. 

Final Decision for 180 East 88th Street

FRIENDS and Carnegie Hill Neighbor’s Appeal Denied by the Board of Standards and Appeals BUT…

(Left) L-Shaped building lot pre-construction (Right) Rendering by DDG

In a vote of 4-1 last week, the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) voted to deny our appeal of 180 East 88th Street. In their comments, Commissioners acknowledged the deficiency of the Zoning Resolution’s text regarding this issue, but eventually conceded that the Department of Buildings (DOB) acted within its right to approve the subdivision of the zoning lot that created the micro-lot. Because the text does not prescribe a minimum lot size in this zoning district, the Commissioners therefore determined that DOB was reasonable in approving the 10 foot lot. 

Although we are disheartened by the BSA’s decision, the deferral of the issue to the Department of City Planning (DCP) underscores vocal efforts by FRIENDS, our fellow civic groups, and elected officials that DCP address these issues. As Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and the entire Manhattan delegation of the City Council stated in a letter in August, DCP must pursue a

180 East 88th Street showing the carved-off portion of the lot in blue. Credit: George Janes and Associates

holistic set of solutions to address not only inter-building voids, but also tighten the definition of a zoning lot, and introduce restrictions on floor to ceiling heights. Mayor de Blasio and DCP have previously committed to addressing the mechanical void exemption by the end of the year, but have not made any further public statement since June.

Despite the ultimate ruling, several Commissioners suggested that a legislative solution is needed to disallow use of this loophole in future projects. Specifically, DCP should specify a minimum lot size for commercial districts within the text of the Zoning Resolution. Commissioner Salvatore Scibetta cast the sole vote in support of our appeal, stating in his verbal comments that the subdivision was a violation of the spirit of the Zoning Resolution. Further information on the BSA’s reasoning will be available when the written decision is released in the next several weeks. 

Clear legislative action on the part of the DCP is required to strengthen our city’s zoning rules so they provide the clarity, consistency, and predictability necessary to discern their intent, and to address the many types of loopholes exploited in service of unreasonable and out of scale buildings on the Upper East Side and in residential neighborhoods citywide.

FRIENDS, along with Carnegie Hill Neighbors and the support of our local elected officials, has been challenging the carved out 10 foot by 22 foot portion of 180 East 88th Street’s original zoning lot since October 2017. The decision follows two public hearings in July and October 2018. For additional background information on the project and the challenge, click HERE.

A Victory in the Fight Against Zoning Loopholes

City to Pull Permits for Extell’s UWS Supertower 

Rendering of previously approved design for 50 West 66th Street. Credit: Snøhetta

The Department of Buildings (DOB) has filed an Intent to Revoke its prior approval for a 39-story, 775 foot tall tower at 50 West 66th Street. Extell, the developer, first filed for a 25-story, 260 foot mixed-use structure back in 2015. However, post-approval amendments gave way to the Snohetta-designed tower with a 160 foot “mechanical” void at the base whose construction began in late 2017. Now, the DOB’s Manhattan borough commissioner has indicated that the inclusion of this excess empty space is “not customarily found in connection with residential uses.” The developer has 15 days to respond.

This reversal comes as a welcome surprise as the DOB had previously rejected a zoning challenge filed by Landmark West!, local Upper West Side residents, and Council Member Helen Rosenthal in November 2018.

NY1 News Anchor Pat Kiernan discussing the DOB’s decision on this morning’s news

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewerapplauded the DOB’s decision to revoke the previously-approved building form. In a statement last night she said, “By ruling that a mechanical space with a floor-to-floor height of 160 feet is not an ‘accessory use’ allowed under zoning, DOB correctly interpreted both the letter and the intent of the City’s zoning code. This is a victory not only for the Upper West Side, but for communities all over the city that find themselves outgunned by developers who try to bend or break zoning rules for massive private profit.” The Borough President, our local Council Members Ben Kallosand Keith Powers, and the Manhattan delegation of the City Council have long supported the efforts of FRIENDS of the Upper East Side and other advocacy groups in the fight against zoning loopholes.

Rendering of proposed design for 249 East 62nd Street. Credit: Rafael Viñoly Architects

50 West 66th Street is just one of many recent plans to create residential “buildings on stilts” that utilize void spaces excessive floor-to-ceiling heights, and other loopholes that serve as workarounds to the City’s Zoning Resolution. So far, it is unclear whether the West 66th Street decision will have a direct effect on the proposed building at 249 East 62nd Street, on the East Side, just steps away from the Treadwell Farm Historic District. In May 2018 the DOB approved the use of a similar mechanical void of 150 feet, but the West Side reversal signals a new perspective from the agency.

At a town hall meeting last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio committed to addressing the issue of exempt mechanical voids, but thus far, there have been no proposed amendments to the zoning resolution put forth by the Department of City Planning (DCP). DCP Chair Marisa Lago has publicly stated a package of solutions will be proposed by Summer 2019, despite the administration’s earlier commitment to enact a change by the end of 2018.

The “Ghostly Remnant” of St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum on East 90th Street

The “Ghostly Remnant” of St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum on East 90th Street
A monumental vestige of the Chapel of St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum at 402 East 90th Street, viewed from the lot where the Spence School is set to construct a new athletic facility. Once completed, this facade will permanently be obscured. Photo: Sarah Greig Photography/FRIENDS of the Upper East Side
In “The Ghostly Remnant,” published yesterday in Our Town, journalist Douglas Feiden explores the curious development history of an apartment building on East 90th Street that bears the uniquely preserved facade of the Chapel of St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum. The asylum’s campus occupied the land once owned by 19th Century stock broker and banker Nathaniel Prime, whose mansion remained on the block until roughly 1918. The chapel, constructed in the early 20th century, was later repurposed as an auto garage before its conversion to an apartment in the 1980’s. This remnant is set to be covered by the construction of the Spence School’s new athletic facility, to be completed in 2020.
FRIENDS of the Upper East Side has been thoroughly documenting the cultural and architectural history of this block, and of this fascinating relic at 402 East 90th Street. As part of a former waterfront estate turned religious institution that served the civic, social, and religious needs of the German immigrant community, this site closely tracks the history of Yorkville that FRIENDS has long been dedicated to uncovering. This exquisite facade is one of the last surviving — and indeed the most striking — fragments of this particular strain of Yorkville’s history and it deserves to be remembered and celebrated. To learn more about the neighborhood, click HERE to view FRIENDS’ recent documentary or purchase our book, both called Shaped by Immigrants: A History of Yorkville.
Scroll down to read the text of the article or click HERE to find the full article in Our Town.
The Nathanial Prime Mansion during the Asylum years in 1907.
Photo: New York Historical Society

The Ghostly Remnant

“It’s a fascinating piece of history. It’s curious and stunning that it survived. And it should not be covered up.” Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph’s Church. Photo: Sarah Greig Photography/FRIENDS of the Upper East Side.
Or how a 19th-century UES church popped up in all its majesty when a private school razed an old parking garage – and why its resurrection could prove fleeting
A monumental and long-forgotten Yorkville treasure has resurfaced from out of the past on a quiet crosstown block on East 90th Street – but it is quickly expected to disappear from sight.
Upper East Siders wishing to glory in its grandeur and other-worldliness must not tarry: At an unspecified date, later this year or in 2020, it is set to vanish – perhaps for generations, perhaps indefinitely.
If and when that happens, the last vestige of an historic superblock that once offered meals and housing and schooling and Catholic discipline to impoverished orphans of German origin will be gone forever.
This is a story about relics, religion and real estate. It’s about parking garages, preservation and a passion for lost causes.
Ultimately, it’s about the consequences of a property deal in 2011 between Hertz Rent-a-Car and the elite Spence School: At first, it fully restored a piece of the past to the Manhattan streetscape. But now, it is threatening to sever it for good.
The object in question is an architectural remnant, a surviving fragment from an imposing neo-Classical, brick-and-stone church. Only a single element of the original superstructure still stands – its facade. But what a facade.
It boasts exquisite ornamentation, detailed pediments, a circular rose window, decorative keystones that crown arched window openings and large Romanesque arches that once provided entry for prayer services.
Hauntingly beautiful, those architectural remains are all that’s left of St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum, which was founded in 1857, ministered to thousands of abandoned children and owned and occupied the entire city block bounded by 89th and 90th Streets and First and York Avenues.
It was on that sprawling campus that the orphanage in 1898 built a hall, or gathering place, for its young charges, an elaborate facility located at 402 East 90th St. that was apparently converted in 1907 to serve both orphans and local parishioners as St. Joseph’s main chapel.
As a sacred site, its reign would be brief. By 1918 – with the end of World War I in sight, and UES land values soaring in anticipation of waves of returning doughboys – the orphanage began to sell off its multiple institutional buildings to developers.
Before long, one of Yorkville’s earliest munificent organizations had moved to Peekskill in Westchester County. But even though its chapel went out of business, it never left the block.
“It would have been deconsecrated,” said Father Boniface Ramsey, the pastor of St. Joseph’s Church on East 87th Street, which was built in 1894 for a German-speaking parish founded in 1873 and still holds Civil War-era baptismal records from its affiliated orphanage.
The purchaser would have been chosen with great care, the priest said. “The Archdiocese wouldn’t sell it to someone who would turn it into a bordello,” he added.
Indeed, the buyer, and then a second buyer 65 years after that, turned out to be deeply respectful of the structure’s ecclesiastical legacy.



The first Model-T had rolled off Henry Ford’s assembly line in 1908, and a decade later, as the auto played an increasingly outsized role on city streets, plans were drawn up to remodel the church as a parking garage for 250 cars, a 1918 New York Times story reported.
Opting to retain its facades, the new owner essentially inserted a two-story garage within the church’s nave and clerestory. Meanwhile, over the next 10-plus years, three other two-floor parking garages popped up on 90th Street between First and York.
Flash forward to 1983: A new owner buys the chapel-cum-garage, adds several stories, converts it into a 12-story condominium. Once again, the entry facade survives and is embedded into the newly constructed building.
“A curious decision was made to retain the east facade and incorporate it into the larger residential building, creating a flattened, almost trompe l’oeil effect when viewed from the street,” said Rachel Levy, the executive director of the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, which is researching and documenting the site.
Several church arches along 90th Street that once contained leaded windows became structural elements of the “boxy, simple 1980s facade of the building, creating a postmodern combination of old and new,” she said.
For years, the view of the church’s primary facade, which rises about 65 to 70 feet in height, was truncated. Directly to its east, at 412 East 90th St., a neighboring garage, eventually purchased by Hertz, stood roughly 35- or 40-feet high, effectively masking the structure’s bottom half.
Enter the prestigious Spence School. An all-girls, K-12, college-prep school with 751 students and tuition pegged at $52,050, its own history in the neighborhood runs deep: Founded in 1892, it moved to 91st Street in 1929.
In Sept. 2011, Spence trustees paid $26 million to purchase the garage adjoining the church from Hertz Corp., property records show. Then last year, it demolished the structure – and lo and behold, for the first time in nearly a century, the full majesty of the church came into view.
Not for long. Spence late last year began excavation and foundation work for a 54,000-square-foot athletic complex on the site that will include a regulation-sized basketball court, nine squash courts, study centers, performing arts space and a greenhouse.
The problem is that the six-story building will rise 85 feet and totally obscure the remnant wall of the old St. Joseph’s chapel.
“The new Spence building at 412 East 90th St. will abut the brick-and-stone wall, but all primary structure is set back from the protruding elements of the remnant wall,” Spence said in a statement.
“When the new building is finished, the masonry wall will not be visible,” the school confirmed.
Father Ramsey thinks it should be saved, maintained and remain on view. “It’s a fascinating piece of history,” he said. “It’s curious and stunning that it survived. And it should not be covered up.”
Community leaders are hoping for a creative solution:
“I’m not one to force my interest in preservation on others,” said East Side City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the block and once lived in the condo building.
“But I think it would be really cool if Spence chooses to put up a glass curtain wall so that students and others who use the facility can actually see this architectural feature on the side of the building,” he added.
It’s a beautiful artifact of the past that can and should be saved, said Joan Geismar, an urban archeologist who once dug up a 92-foot, 18th-century merchant ship in lower Manhattan.
“An institution of learning should have the sensitivity to preserve something that’s irreplaceable,” she added.
Indeed, the object that will be “effectively erased” is “perhaps the last extant piece of this particular strain of Yorkville’s history,” Levy said.
“The neighborhood is changing left and right, and if the façade remnant could be retained in some way, it could be a great opportunity to illuminate some of our collective history,” she added.
That history, encapsulated in the facade, speaks to all the children who survived the orphanage, said Kathy Jolowicz, who runs the Yorkville-Kleindeutschland Historical Society.
“Their mothers tearfully gave them up as babies, and they became the ancestors of so many of the German-Americans who lived in the neighborhood,” she said.

Rendering of the Spence School’s new athletic facility on East 90th Street. Rendering courtesy of the Spence School.

Extra! Extra! FRIENDS’ Fall 2018 Newsletter

Read all about it!

Click the image below to read all the latest news from FRIENDS
FRIENDS on the
Front Lines Contesting Overdevelopment… pg. 2
Shaped by Immigrants in Print and On Film!… pg. 3
FRIENDS’ Thirty-Fifth Annual Meeting & Awards… pg. 5
First Avenue Estate Update –
Is the Battle Finally Over?… pg. 7

There’s Still Time to Order Your Holiday Copy!

A book that celebrates the soul of our community.

“FRIENDS is delving into the boundless historical, cultural, architectural, mercantile and ecclesiastical treasures of Yorkville – at a time that heritage seems most in jeopardy.”

– Douglas Feiden, Our Town
Shaped by Immigrants is a richly illustrated and engaging history of one of New York City’s most fascinating immigrant communities. Since the book’s release last month, we’ve been thrilled by its reception, including  this glowing review by Douglas Feiden in Our Town.
FRIENDS wants you to know that there is still time to place an order and have it delivered for the holidays.
Proceeds from book sales directly support FRIENDS’ mission to preserve the architectural legacy, livability, and sense of place of the Upper East Side and be the leading voice for common sense development.
Regular Price: $30
Current FRIENDS Member Price: $20




2019 ANNUAL AWARDS Call for Entries

Call for Entries
– Deadline Monday, January 7th –  
2018 Distinctive Achievement Award: MTA Arts & Design: Second Avenue Subway Art 
This spring, FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts will celebrate outstanding achievement in preservation, architecture, and advocacy on the Upper East Side during our  36th Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony.
The award categories are flexible and can vary each year. Among other areas of accomplishment, previous winners  have demonstrated excellence in Restoration, Rehabilitation, Design, and Stewardship.  Individuals and advocacy groups who have displayed extraordinary achievement in the field of preservation are also eligible.
FRIENDS seeks nominations for both architecture and advocacy. The awards committee will consider all submissions, large and small, that have furthered the cause of maintaining the special sense of place of the Upper East Side.


 Please read our eligibility requirements below and submit nominations by  Monday January 7, 2019 .

  1. Projects must be located between 59th and 110th Streets, and between 5th Avenue and the East River, including Central Park.
  2. Projects must have been substantially completed between December 1, 2017 and December 1, 2018.
  3. Only the exteriors of architectural projects and/or historically significant interiors will be considered.
  4. Preservation projects should be for restoration, rehabilitation, or adaptive re-use of historic buildings (including Post World War II architecture). The buildings may be located either in or out of the historic districts.
  5. New construction is also eligible.
  6. Individuals or advocacy groups must have contributed to the preservation of the Upper East Side’s built environment.
Contact for more information, 

or click here to download the nomination form.

The Perfect Gift For The Upper East Sider in Your Life

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.
Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”-Groucho Marx

With the holidays rapidly approaching, we think it is safe to say that Groucho Marx would have loved receiving this beautiful new book about the Yorkville Neighborhood.
You probably already know that FRIENDS of the Upper East Side is currently waging an urgent fight to save the beloved Marx Brothers Playground in Yorkville.
Here is your chance to support FRIENDS by purchasing this perfect holiday gift for your personal Groucho… or for anyone who loves the Upper East Side!
Shaped by Immigrants: A History of Yorkville is the richly illustrated story of the neighborhood’s development and its immigrant roots, featuring breathtaking archival images and dazzling contemporary photographs specially commissioned for the project.
It describes the fascinating evolution of Yorkville in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a home to Czechoslovakian, German, Hungarian, Irish, and other immigrant groups. The lasting imprint of these groups is still visible in Yorkville’s historic architecture, and the buildings where they lived, worked, shopped, and prayed continue to define the neighborhood’s unique character.
Regular Price: $30
Current FRIENDS Member Price: $20

More than 700,000 1940’s Tax Photos Now Available Online

Hundreds of Thousands of 1940’s Tax Photos are Now Available to View Online!

RKO Proctor’s 86th Street Theatre, Designed by Thomas W. Lamb
Source: NYC Municipal Archives

From 1939-1941, every building in New York City’s Five Boroughs was documented in a series of Tax Photos through a joint effort by the Works Progress Administration and the New York City Department of Taxation. The culmination of a long-awaited digitization effort, these images have now been made available online through the Municipal Archive’s digital gallery. This digitization provides unparalleled access to this crucial tool for researching the history of our city’s buildings.
The image negatives from the 40’s were left untouched until 1980 when they were sent to Denver, Colorado and transferred to microfilm strips that were cataloged and returned to New York City. Viewing the 1940’s tax photo of a property used to mean a trip to the Municipal Archives downtown where they are permanently housed, but now the full collection of more than 700,000 images can be accessed from the comfort of your home or office. Just find the block and lot numbers of the address you wish to view to access the appropriate record within the collection. Happy exploring!
The 1940 Tax Photos-A Well-Traveled Collection.” by Kelli O’Toole, New York Department of Information Services Blog, November 2, 2018.