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Tax Photographs!

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The oddest press release came in…

It’s titled Announcing.. a New Collection of Tax Photographs at the Municipal Archives

NYC.gov always open

That peeked my interest.

ANNOUNCING …

A NEW COLLECTION OF TAX PHOTOGRAPHS AT THE MUNICIPAL ARCHIVES

Municipal Archives patrons have long known about the 1940s “tax photographs” collection. But what many may not know is that the city re-photographed all five boroughs in the mid-1980s, this time using color film.

And now the Municipal Archives is pleased to announce that this collection is also available for research and purchase.

In the 1930s, local governments began to use photography as a tool for appraising real property for taxation purposes. New York City was the largest municipality to adopt this technology. The result was 720,000 35mm black-and-white pictures of every building in the five boroughs dating from 1939 to 1940.

By the early 1980s, the City’s Department of Finance, the agency responsible for appraising property for real estate tax purposes, determined that the 1940s photographs needed to be updated. From 1983 to 1988, again using 35mm cameras, their staff fanned out in the five boroughs photographing every property, including vacant lots and tax-exempt buildings. They used color film stock resulting in over 800,000 photographs in both print and negative formats.

SAMPLE PHOTOS

101 AVENUE B, NEW YORK, NY

HOW TO VIEW AND PURCHASE THE TAX PHOTOGRAPHS

Researchers can view photographs in all of the boroughs from the 1940s collection on microfilm in the Municipal Archives reference room. For the 1980s collection, patrons can view low-resolution images on computer monitors in the Archives (currently, only Manhattan and the Bronx are viewable but photographs can be ordered from all boroughs).

It is not necessary to visit the Municipal Archives to order copies of tax photographs from either collection. Copies can be ordered online via the e-payments system, or by mail. Visit http://nyc.gov/html/records/html/taxphotos/home.shtml for complete ordering information.

For quickest delivery, you can order using your credit card on our secure website!

The Municipal Archives is also open to the public. For hours and location, please visit: http://www.nyc.gov/html/records/html/about/archives.shtml

Municipal Archives is a division of the New York City Department of Records. To learn more about the Department of Records and other divisions, please visit: http://www.nyc.gov/records

I suppose in tough times like these this is a very creative way to make some extra income. Not sure though what the broad appeal would be but certainly worth reporting!

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