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Urban Archive Web App Release

October 29, 2019 9:14 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)



NEW YORK, NY - October 28, 2019 - Urban Archive, the technology nonprofit that creates new connections between people, places, and historical institutions, today announced the release of its first web app, making its popular geospatial application available to anyone with an internet connection for the first time. Since launching an iOS app in 2016, Urban Archive has merged open city data with the digital collections of dozens of museums, libraries, and city agencies, making it easier than ever for the public to explore New York’s changing urban environment in a single place. 

To-date, the location-based platform has mapped nearly 100,000 historical images from the collections of more than 40 organizations, breathing new life into hidden archives and forgotten histories. Urban Archive partners range from large institutions—including the Museum of the City of New York, Queens Public Library, the New-York Historical Society, and the New York City Department of Records and Information Services—to smaller organizations like the Alice Austen House in Staten Island and Village Preservation. The location of each photograph is standardized, verified, and then cross-checked for accuracy by a team of historians and researchers under the direction of Urban Archive before it is published to the platform. 

"New-York Historical has an unparalleled photographic record of New York history, and we’re thrilled that working with Urban Archive allows us to engage more users with our vast photo collections, making history come alive in unique and exciting ways," said Michael Ryan, New-York Historical Society vice president and director of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library. 

Urban Archive adds fresh content to the platform daily and regularly releases original “Stories” — curated narratives about specific historical events or themes much like a museum exhibit. By being in a 

Urban Archive Releases First Web App — A Digital Time Capsule for Exploring New York History 

New App Unlocks Rich Visual Record of 100,000 Geolocated Historical Images from the Hidden Archives of 40+ New York Cultural Institutions 

unique position to draw upon the archives of so many institutions at once, Urban Archive’s Stories often shed new light onto our collective understanding of past events. Today, users can browse 370 Stories here, including: 

The Birthplace of the Metropolitan Opera: a Story about one of the best places to hear an aria, as told by the Museum of the City of New York 

Mark Twain’s New York: a Story that explores the great American writer’s many connections to New York City, as told by the New-York Historical Society 

Rebuilding the Bronx: a Story of the disinvestment and physical decay that afflicted the Bronx from the 1970s into the 1990s, as told by New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development 

Environmentalism in Brooklyn: a Story of the dynamic history of environmental activism and development, as told by the Brooklyn Collection 

Good Times in Bay Ridge: a Story that features sites and spots frequented by Bay Ridge locals in the 1940s, as told by the New York City Department of Records and Information Services 

These stories, among others, are indexed under the contributing organization’s profile page on the platform. 

“We are happy to partner with Urban Archive by providing information and historical images to City residents—from tours of City sites that George McAneny helped save (i.e., Castle Clinton) to scavenger hunts amongst grand old Bay Ridge houses,” said Pauline Toole, commissioner of the New York City Department of Records and Information Services. “We have been delighted to share images from the Municipal Archives through their app. The expansion into a web-based version will engage so many more New Yorkers in this history.” 

Unlike existing repositories, Urban Archive visualizes the historical transformation of New York’s built environment in an entirely new way. This new tool geolocates the digital collections of various institutions, centralizes them in one place, and then superimposes these assets with additional data points, including tax-lot data from NYC’s open data portal (PLUTO database). Users can easily navigate the map to uncover new knowledge about the city’s past and present or leverage Urban Archive Search to mine through the metadata and collections at large. 

“By lowering the barriers to interaction with digital collections, Urban Archive presents new and exciting opportunities for the Museum of the City of New York to connect with the public and to create personalized experiences that are based on our current exhibitions,” said Sheryl Victor Levy, vice president of marketing & communications, Museum of the City of New York. “We are grateful for the partnership and for the ability to give exposure to our extensive built environment collection for New Yorkers and visitors from around the world.” 

Explore Urban Archive’s new web app or visit urbanarchive.nyc for more information. 

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About Urban Archive Urban Archive is a technology nonprofit that creates new connections between people, places, and historical institutions. Its mission is to inspire learning that is rooted in what’s local — the architecture, culture, and unique stories of New York. 

To connect with Urban Archive, follow @UrbanArchiveNY on Instagram and Twitter and download the Urban Archive app, available for free in the App Store. For more information please visit urbanarchive.nyc

Media Contacts Urban Archive: press@urbanarchive.nyc


The Museum Association of New York strengthens the capacity of New York State’s cultural community by supporting professional standards and organizational development. We provide advocacy, training, and networking opportunities so that museums and museum professionals may better serve their missions and communities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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