Tax Photographs of New York City Buildings

Matthew Bielawa told me about this when we were in New York City on 09 August 2009.

On that day, after visiting Castle Garden and Ellis Island, our group retired to an Irish Pub on Second Avenue in Manhattan. As I mentioned in a previous post, I realized that we were probably very close to the building where my grandfather, Michael Danko, first stayed after he arrived in America in 1905.

I checked the address on my iPhone by accessing the 1910 US Federal Census on Ancestry.com, where I looked up the address of Isaac Flichtenfeld, the Jewish umbrella maker with whom my grandfather stayed when he first arrived from the old country. Yes, indeed, Isaac Flichtenfeld’s 1910 address was listed as 35 First Avenue, just a short distance from where we were.

Upon arriving at the address, it became apparant that the building at that address was not the original structure. The buildings on either side towered above the 35 First Avenue address, and marks on the sides of the two adjacent buildings suggested that 35 First Avenue was once the same height as its neighbors.

I was disappointed that the original building no longer existed. Nonetheless, Matthew took a photo of me in front of the address.

However, Matthew told me about the NYC Department of Records website at which one can purchase old photographs of any building in the five boroughs of New York City.

Indeed, it appears that the city photographed every building in New York City for appraising real property for taxation purposes. Every building was photographed between 1939 and 1941 and again between 1983 and 1988. These photographs are available for purchase on the NYC Department of Records website.

I ordered an 8 X 10 black and white photograph of 35 First Avenue from the 1939-1941 period. The photograph cost me $35 plus $5 for a search of the block and lot number (I don’t know the correct block and lot number for the 1939-1940 time period), plus $4 shipping. The photograph is a bit pricey, but it’s worth it to me to document my family history.

I’ll receive the photograph in 4 to 6 weeks. I can’t wait!

Copyright © 2009 by Stephen J. Danko

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2 Responses to Tax Photographs of New York City Buildings

  1. Jasia says:

    I would happily pay twice that if Detroit had photos of my grandparents’ homes and businesses. You are very fortunate Steve!

  2. Steve says:

    Steve,

    How great! Hopefully, they’ll get the maps of Sniatyn at some point. Really wish I could have gone to your talk in Lakewood last week. I live in Long Beach, but had family things to do.

    Steve

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