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The NYPL Just Released More Than 180,000 Images. We Picked the Best of Old New York

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The NYPL Bookmobile in the Bronx, 1950s. (All photos: Public Domain/From the New York Public Library)

In a boon for history lovers everywhere, the New York Public Library has made over 180,000 public domain images available for high resolution download on its Digital Collections website.

The initiative, announced on January 6th, makes finding public domain images easier and was launched alongside the Remix Residency, which encourages new and different uses of the materials. One such remix is a mosaic-like visualization of the materials in the collection, which gives a sense of the scale of the project. 

NYPL’s first online image site launched in 2005 with 275, 000 images; today, the figure stands at more than half a million and counting. In 2015, the site began to add video, audio and text, all of which makes for a mesmerizing look at the past.

To celebrate this wondrous collection, Atlas Obscura brings you 24 photographic glories from NYPL’s public domain collection. In doing so, it seems only appropriate to focus on photographs of the city that the NYPL has served for over 100 years—New York, New York. 

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Photographer Berenice Abbott's extraordinary work for the Federal Art Project is on the NYPL Digital Collections, including this 1935 photograph, "Tempo of the City: II. Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, looking west from Seymour Building, 503 Fifth Avenue".

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The Music Library phonograph booth.

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Lapland children, possibly from Sweden, from a collection of photographs of immigrants by Augustus Sherman. Sherman worked at Ellis Island from 1892 to 1925.

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View of Lenox Avenue, Harlem, at 135th Street, March 23, 1939.

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Children looking at a window display.

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Berenice Abbott's interior photograph of Penn Station.

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Helene Levy dances with wings, 19th century.

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Central Park, 1862.

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The Children's Room at the St. George Library on Staten Island. 

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A milk wagon on Grove Street, 1936, by Berenice Abbott. 

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View of the New York Public Library, from 42nd Street, east of Fifth Avenue, 1907. 

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A 19th century Brooklyn baseball club.

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Stages in the design for the Chrysler building, 1929.

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Reading under a sign saying 'Silence', at the Aguilar Free Circulating Library, East Broadway. 

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The Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1882.

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Greyhound Bus Terminal, 33rd and 34th Streets between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, Manhattan, 1936, by Berenice Abbott.

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Members of the Women's Army Corps arrive in New York from France, on March 8, 1946. 

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Reading on the roof of Seward Park Library, c. 1910. 

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A puppet show,  c. 1935.

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A German stowaway at Ellis Island prior to being deported, May 1911, also from the Augustus Sherman photograph collection.

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Braille reading.

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Herald Square, 34th and Broadway, Manhattan, 1936, by Berenice Abbott,

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Eunice Hill poses in costume, doing the splits, on a 19th-century carte de visite.


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