Building NYC: New York's Changing Landscape

January 1, 2001 - April 1, 2002
Central Library, Grand Lobby
Exhibition Notes

New York is — and always has been — a work in progress. One of the most dynamic cities in the world, the structures that compose New York’s landscape reflect its ever-evolving nature. Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Collection has selected 47 original photographs and prints of some of the city’s most interesting structures during their construction and reconstruction from 1880’s-2001, including the Chrysler Building, Flatiron Building, Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Verrazano bridges, Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and Brooklyn Army Terminal.

 "Who knew that every photographer would stop for the Brooklyn Bridge…The bridge in scaffolds; or with laboring men who probably hadn’t heard of the bends yet and looked at the skeletal structure and couldn’t dream of what Crane or Lorca or so many poets and writers would do with their handiwork…" writes noted author André Aciman (The New York Times, The New Yorker) in "In Scaffolds," as he reflects on the New York landscape in the essay written for the exhibition. 

"At a time when our city needs inspiration to move forward, this exhibition displays evidence of its ongoing strength and power to create and recreate itself." said Judith Walsh, Director of the Brooklyn Collection. "Co-curator Joy Holland and I have selected images that reflect the energy and endurance of New York City."

The Brooklyn Collection

The photographs and prints come from the many sources that comprise the Brooklyn Collection’s holdings. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle collection includes about 35,000 images of Brooklyn dating from about 1900 to 1955. The collection houses historic images by professional and amateur photographer alike, from prolific amateur George Bradford Brainerd working in the 1870’s and 80’s to professional construction photographer Mal Gurian who trained in aerial photography during World War II.

Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Collection contains books, maps, photographs, clippings and other items that document the history of Brooklyn from pre-colonial times to the present. It is the premier repository for materials on the borough in the 20th century.