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.

Now Available! Get Your Copy of Shaped by Immigrants: A History of Yorkville



Regular Price: $30
Current FRIENDS Member Price: $20

Shipping fees apply. 

To verify your current membership status, please call 212-535-2526 or email us at

Purchase your Copy Today!

FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts is proud to present Shaped by Immigrants: A History of Yorkville, an illustrated history of Yorkville’s development and its immigrant roots. This original publication, researched and written by FRIENDS of the Upper East Side, describes the compelling history of the Yorkville neighborhood as it developed 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 book tells the history against the backdrop of buildings remaining today where immigrants lived, worked, shopped, and prayed. These buildings play an integral role in defining Yorkville’s character, but until now, the comprehensive story of Yorkville has not been told.Shaped by Immigrants: A History of Yorkville blends FRIENDS’ in-depth historic research and writing with an engaging collection of historic images from several institutional archives in New York City, alongside contemporary photographs of the neighborhood commissioned for this project. As a companion to the book, FRIENDS has also produced a 15-minute mini documentary film chronicling Yorkville’s history. The film features interviews with longtime residents and architectural historians, and it showcases the neighborhood’s history and development through their eyes. This project was funded, in part, by Council Member Ben Kallos and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.


To view the individual chapters, please click the links below:

Part I – Immigrant Life
Part II – Engines of Developments
Part III –  Buildings and Institutions

This program is 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 Legislature.

BSA Update: Second Public Hearing for 180 East 88th Street

180 East 88th Street to Have Second 

Board of Standards and Appeals Public Hearing

(Left) L-Shaped building lot pre-construction (Right) Rendering by DDG
FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts and Carnegie Hill Neighbors’ fight against180 East 88th Street continues. Next Tuesday, October 30th, the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) will hold a second public hearing to address our joint community challengeof the Department of Buildings’ (DOB) approval of a 10 foot by 22 foot portion carved out of the property’s lot in order to evade the City’s zoning requirements meant to regulate building’s height and form. Read our statement from the July 17, 2018 public hearing at the BSA  HERE.
If this reckless tactic is upheld by the BSA, the very standards of contextual zoning could come under threat by developers hoping to  abandon predictable forms in pursuit of higher profits -all at the cost of the livability and architectural integrity of residential neighborhoods. Such a departure from the standards of the Zoning Resolution would yield innumerable consequences for pedestrians, residents, and neighbors, and would undermine the zoning regulations that have been in place for decades.
180 East 88th Street has utilized numerous other tactics, including excessive floor to ceiling heights and an unnecessary intra-building void, that undermine the predictability of development in New York, nullify zoning provisions that were designed to promote livability and thoughtful urban design, and similarly threaten our residential neighborhoods.FRIENDS, along with other advocacy groups and elected officials, continue to fight for common-sense zoning reform and amendments to the zoning resolution to curtail the use of loopholes.

Show your support of FRIENDS and Carnegie Hill Neighbors’ challenge through attendance at the Board of Standards and Appeals.
Tuesday, October 30th
Beginning at 10:00 a.m.
22 Reade Street, Spector Hall
Agenda available HERE.

FRIENDS in the News!

FRIENDS Executive Director Talks 

Zoning Loopholes at 249 East 62nd Street

NBC New York Channel 4 News Report: “Upper East Side High Rise Derided as Condo on Stilts.” October 9, 2018
Click HERE or on the image above to view the clip from NBC New York Channel 4 News.
This past Tuesday, FRIENDS’ Executive Director Rachel Levy was interviewed along with longtime zoning consultant George Janes about the impending development at 249 East 62nd Street. The proposed Rafael Viñoly designed tower– which has been referred to as “Jetsons-esque“– includes a 150-foot height-boosting void in its core, meant to lift residential units higher into the sky. In the interview, she explains that the proposed design deviates from the “relatively predictable forms” produced by tower-on-base zoning “seen up and down our (Upper East Side) avenues.” This void is an example of a notorious zoning loophole now so frequently abused by developers wishing to reap profits from artificially boosted apartments, at the expense of New Yorkers living in residential neighborhoods.
FRIENDS of the Upper East Side has filed a Community Appeal to challenge the DOB’s insistence that this tower does not violate New York City’s Zoning Resolution. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and the Manhattan Delegation of the City Council have also called for the City Planning Commission to seek immediate solutions for these zoning loopholes that threaten livability of our city’s residential neighborhoods in a joint letter which can be found HERE. For updates on the appeal and for more information on this development, please visit our website HERE.

A New Chair for the Landmarks Preservation Commission

Mayor de Blasio Appoints A New LPC Chair

Sarah Carrol_ pictured far right. Image by Nathan Haselby
Sarah Carroll, right, has been appointed as Chair of the LPC. (Photo by Nathan Haselby for Bklyner.)
Last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio nominated Sarah Carroll as the new Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), a position that has been vacant since June. Ms. Carroll has served as the Executive Director of the LPC since 2014, and she has been at the agency for 24 years, including serving as LPC’s Director of Preservation from 2005 until 2014. She holds an MFA in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design.
At a City Council confirmation hearing last week, Ms. Carroll emphasized her plan to continue to increase agency transparency and outreach to both designated and un-designated neighborhoods to educate about the work of the LPC. She also spoke about promoting and maintaining productive communication with community groups, and the need to identify properties for designation early, particularly those with outstanding cultural value. This nomination was met with widespread support and Ms. Carroll’s appointment was approved unanimously at a City Council Stated Meeting this past Wednesday, September 26th. FRIENDS looks forward forward to continuing to work toward our City’s preservation together with Ms. Carroll during her tenure as LPC Chair.