These Incredible Photos From The Past Tell the Story of a Gritty New York City

By | December 9, 2015

Over a million images of New York, some from the mid-1800s, have been made public by the city's Department of Records. The fantastic photo collection feature every aspect of the city -- from stately ports and grand bridges to grisly gangland killings.

Here are some photos from the collection.

Always moving

July 29, 1908: Workers dig in Delancy Street on New York's Lower East Side.

Teasing death

October 7, 1914: Painters balancing on suspended wires on the Brooklyn Bridge -- 31 years after it first opened.

Genesis of an icon

June 5, 1908: Seen from Washington Street, the Manhattan Bridge on the first stages of its construction. It wouldn't be opened for another 18 months and wouldn't be completed for another four years.

The grand building

1937: The main concourse of Grand Central Terminal, in New York, seen from the posh Campbell apartment. The apartment, in one of America's grandest train stations, was the playground of financier John Campbell in the roaring 1920.

Dead men can tell tales

November 24, 1915: The bodies of elevator operator Robert Green, left, and Jacob Jagendorf, a building engineer, right, were found lying at the bottom of an elevator shaft and told the story of the pair's failed robbery attempt.


April 18, 1936: This is the original booking photo for Charles 'Lucky' Luciano, the father of organized crime in New York. He was the first to divide the city sections to be controlled by five mob families

Crime most foul

1918: Children found the body of Gaspare Candella stuffed in a drum and dumped in a field in Brooklyn, New York.

Cooling off

Summer of 1940: New Yorkers cool off in the Astoria public pool with the Hell Gate railroad bridge looming in the background.

The Great Bambino

September 30, 1936: A man hands a program to baseball legend Babe Ruth, center, as he is joined by his second wife Clare, center left, and singer Kate Smith, front left, in the grandstand during Game One of the 1936 World Series at the Polo Grounds in New York.

Moment in history

May 18, 1940: The headline of the newspaper the man in this photo reads: 'Nazi Army Now 75 Miles From Paris.' This picture shows the corner of Sixth Avenue and 40th Street in Manhattan

The view from New Jersey

December 22, 1936: The view from New Jersey: A man peers across the Hudson River into Manhattan from his perch on the George Washington Bridge.


The Third Avenue elevated train runs across lower Manhattan in this undated photo. City Hall visible in the background.

Hard times

1935: An unemployed man lays on a pier in the New York City docks during the Great Depression.

Under construction

1936: The Triborough Bridge, which links Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx, still under construction. The Hells Gate Railroad Bridge looms in the distance.

Busy streets

Right photo: Men and women stroll a row of jewelry shops on the Lower East Side. Left photo: Men stand in line for bread during the Great Depression.

Daily scene

Circa 1890: Little girls walk east along 42nd Street. Acker, Merrall and Condit wine shop delivery wagons are on the right and the C.C. Shayne Furrier sign is barely visible on the roof overhead.

Building roads

October 2, 1930: Workers lay bricks to pave 28th Street in Manhattan

Old buildings

The database also features more than 800,000 color photographs taken with 35mm cameras of every city building in the mid-1980s. Pictured below is 172 Norfolk Street (now the Angel Orensanz Foundation) in New York, photo taken circa 1983 - 1988:

To view more images, go here.