Photo Essays

Browse Thousands of Amazing Historic Brooklyn Photos

by Jillian Steinhauer on February 28, 2013

Jamel Shabazz, "East Flatbush 1982" (image via Brooklyn Visual Heritage)

Jamel Shabazz, “East Flatbush 1982″ (1982) (all images via Brooklyn Visual Heritage)

History nerds and Brooklynophiles, rejoice! The Brooklyn Historical Society, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Brooklyn Public Library have teamed up to put large chunks of their collections online. The result is Brooklyn Visual Heritage, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a website devoted to a visual history of the borough.

The site was developed through something called Project CHART (Cultural Heritage, Access, Research and Technology), a collaboration between the three Brooklyn institutions plus Pratt Institute’s School of Information and Library Science. It contains thousands of historic images, from street corner shots to beautiful period interiors, old postcards, pictures of the Brooklyn Dodgers, everyday life, crime scenes, housing projects, the waterfront, trade cards, and more, ranging from the late 19th century to the late 20th. You could easily get lost on this site for hours. (I did.)

The only drawbacks of the site are that most of the pictures are watermarked, as you’ll see below, and some, like the amazing Jamel Shabazz collection (which is where that top image comes from), are only available at very small sizes. Still, Brooklyn Visual Heritage is an amazing compendium of Brooklyn’s history. In honor of its launch, here are just a handful of the many photos I looked through and fell in love with.

Photographer unknown, "Audre White, Mary B. White, K. W. White, Ella St. Balton (Grandma) at 678 McDonough St, Brooklyn" (1898)

Photographer unknown, “Audre White, Mary B. White, K. W. White, Ella St. Balton (Grandma) at 678 McDonough St, Brooklyn” (1898)

Adrian Vanderveer Martense, Untitled (1886)

Adrian Vanderveer Martense, Boy with Bike (unofficial title) (1886)

Unknown photographer, "View of Library, Miss Harriet White's house, 2 Pierrepont Place, Brooklyn N.Y."

Unknown photographer, “View of Library, Miss Harriet White’s house, 2 Pierrepont Place, Brooklyn N.Y.”

P. Hurly, Cortelyou House, South Brooklyn. Built 1699. Corner of 5th Avenue and 3rd Street." (1925)

P. Hurly, Cortelyou House, South Brooklyn. Built 1699. Corner of 5th Avenue and 3rd Street.” (1925)

Unknown photographer, Automatic Packing of Colored Pencils (unofficial title) (1950)

Unknown photographer, Automatic Packing of Colored Pencils (unofficial title) (1950)

From the Brooklyn Eagle, "Ebbets Field welcome," showing President Franklin D. Roosevelt at Ebbets Field (1944)

From the Brooklyn Eagle, “Ebbets Field welcome,” showing President Franklin D. Roosevelt at Ebbets Field (1944)

From the Brooklyn Eagle, "Fans in the bleachers" (at Yankee Stadium, probably during Dodgers-Yankees World Series game on September 30, 1947) (1947)

From the Brooklyn Eagle, “Fans in the bleachers” (at Yankee Stadium, probably during Dodgers-Yankees World Series game on September 30, 1947) (1947)

From the Brooklyn Eagle, "Beauty to spare" (beauty contestants who failed to place) (1954)

From the Brooklyn Eagle, “Beauty to spare” (beauty contestants who failed to place) (1954)

E. E. Rutter, "Brooklyn Borough Hall murals" (193?)

E. E. Rutter, “Brooklyn Borough Hall murals” (193?)

Unknown photographer, Steeplechase Park Circus (unofficial title) (1937)

Unknown photographer, Steeplechase Park Circus (unofficial title) (1937)

Unknown photographer, "Clinton housing" (194?)

Unknown photographer, “Clinton housing” (194?)

Anthony M. Costanzo, Robert F. Kennedy at Brooklyn Navy Yard (unofficial title, demonstrations at Brooklyn Navy Yard)

Anthony M. Costanzo, Robert F. Kennedy at Brooklyn Navy Yard (unofficial title, demonstrations at Brooklyn Navy Yard)

Unknown photographer, Broadway Meat Man (unofficial title, after the 1977 blackout) (1977)

Unknown photographer, Broadway Meat Man (unofficial title, after the 1977 blackout) (1977)

Anders Goldfarb, "Grand Street" (1989)

Anders Goldfarb, “Grand Street” (1989)

Frank J. Trezza, Ro-Ro container ships being built (unofficial title) (1978)

Frank J. Trezza, Ro-Ro container ships being built at the Brooklyn Navy Yard (unofficial title) (1978)

Anders Goldfarb, Coney Island couple (unofficial title) (1984)

Anders Goldfarb, Coney Island couple (unofficial title) (1984)

Otto Dreschmeyer, "Night, Coney Island" (1965)

Otto Dreschmeyer, “Night, Coney Island” (1965)

Anders Goldfarb, Man and elderly woman (unofficial title) (1984)

Anders Goldfarb, Man and elderly woman (unofficial title) (1984)

Joseph Maraio, Park deck, Manhattan skyline, and Brooklyn Bridge (unofficial title) (c. 1975)

Joseph Maraio, Park deck, Manhattan skyline, and Brooklyn Bridge (unofficial title) (c. 1975)

Full view of scrapbook page, including two tradecards for Brooklyn businesses: Edw Learey, John C. Grennell & Co.

Full view of scrapbook page, including two tradecards for Brooklyn businesses: Edw Learey, John C. Grennell & Co.

  • Subscribe to the Hyperallergic email newsletter!

Hyperallergic welcomes comments and a lively discussion, but comments are moderated after being posted. For more details please read our comment policy.

Previous post:

Next post: