From the Archives

Instead of ads and porn, LinkNYC kiosks will now show photos of old New York

City Terrain East
Instead of ads and porn, LinkNYC kiosks will now show photos of old New York. Pictured here: The Battery, 1960. (Image via NYPL)
Instead of ads and porn, LinkNYC kiosks will now show photos of old New York. Pictured here: The Battery, 1960. (Image via NYPL)

Beginning last Friday, select wifi kiosks in New York now feature scintillating pictures of the city from decades past. It’s LinkNYC porn, but for buildings.

In partnership with LinkNYC, the city’s wifi kiosk system, the Department of Records and Information Services is displaying dozens of historic photos on LinkNYC screens in the five boroughs. The images correspond to the blocks where they’re displayed, so a person at Henry and Clark streets, for example, would see a black-and-white picture of the port in what is now Brooklyn Bridge Park. The New York Times reports that most of the photographs on display date from the 1890s through the 1970s, and the project will be up through the end of the year.

LinkNYC is taking residents’ suggestions for where the archival images should be displayed; readers can tweet @LinkNYC to have their voices heard.

The program is the latest in a slate of apps and maps that disseminate New York City history online. This year, Urban Archive geotagged and released over 2,500 images of old New York that users can access on the go. Built in collaboration with Brooklyn Historical Society, the New York Public Library (NYPL), and the Museum of the City of New York, the app pings users with archival images when they’re near a historic site in the database, prompting reflection on the changing city. Separately, the NYPL launched the NYC Space/Time Directory, a “’digital time-travel service’ that combines the library’s map collection with geospatial tools to illuminate the city’s messy and beautiful development over more than a century.” Downtown, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) debuted its Civil Rights & Social Justice Map, an interactive tool that reveals key downtown sites where marginalized people have fought for equity, dignity, and representation.

Beyond the archive, urbanists can now access maps to prepare for L-mageddondiscover the city’s noisiest neighborhoods, learn about future skyscrapers, and find the internet’s favorite kind of architecture.

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