The Department of Records & Information Services is home to a lot of documents and photographs; from Lindsay administration memos to crime scene photos, the expansive collection draws from 50 NYC agencies. The archives are so vast that it's taking a while to digitize everything, but they did just release 720,000 images online.
The latest photo dump brings their 1940s tax photos online; tax photographs were taken by the City’s property tax office (or rather, by freelancers which they paid via funding from the Depression-era Works Progress Administration) as part of their assessment process. All in all, they show "every house and building in the five boroughs" from the decade, according to their press rep.
"This comprehensive collection shows where New Yorkers lived, worked, went to school, worshiped, shopped, dined, and socialized. They have unique value not only for the buildings they depict, but for what is incidental to the picture—the cars, trucks, taxis, buses, horse-drawn wagons, movie marquees, billboards, street lamps and signs—as well as the people—on stoops, on the sidewalks and looking out windows at the busy streetscape. In short, an extraordinary panorama of life in prewar New York City."
The search system is a little bit tricky, but you'll be able to find your building if it was standing in the 1940s. Head to nycma.lunaimaging.com/, and follow the instructions there (you'll need to click on which borough you're searching in on the menu on the left).
Learn more about our city's expansive archives here. A few years ago, they released 30,000 photographs online, including some pretty disturbing images from the NYPD's "Alien Squad," car accidents, airplane crashes in Park Slope, the Hindenburg crashing, and Nazi summer camps on Long Island.