The New York Public Library's collection of photographs offers a visual record of the city's long history, along with providing a slow-motion look at the whiplash change that leaves New Yorkers nostalgic for any long gone era. We've now chosen photos from the Library's catalog and reshot them to show how much more things have changed since they were taken.
Photograher Scott Heins traversed the five boroughs for the project, and says, "Recreating these photos from NYPL's archive reminded me that if anything defines New York City, it's change. Almost every image from the 20th century is, in a way, impossible to recreate now due to new buildings being built, demolished, or remodeled beyond recognition. This process, of course, will never stop, and so if you are looking to make some classic Nostalgic New York photos, go out and take them now. Hopefully they'll age well as time goes by."
First up, we're going to Staten Island.
481 Hylan Blvd, Staten Island
The corner of Hylan Blvd and Donley Ave has long been home to a motel. In an undated photo from the NYPL, we see the Hylan Motel, looking like a perfect mid-century roadside stop and beckoning potential patrons with its Atomic Age sign. As time passed, the shine wore off and the sign came down.
Today, it's called the Staten Island Motor Lodge, offering guests a more 1980s aesthetic, with heart-shaped jacuzzi tubs and mirrors on the ceiling. A few years ago, the motel was shut down due to a prostitution investigation, but has since reopened.
Staten Island Hospital New Brighton, Staten Island
Founded as the S.R. Smith Infirmary (named for Dr. Samuel Russell Smith) in 1861, and later renamed Staten Island Hospital, the building in New Brighton was one one of "the longest-tenured abandoned buildings" in the borough, abandoned in 1979 until it was torn down in 2015.
The former hospital grounds at the corner of Castleton and Cebra Avenues remain abandoned today, though part of the original stone wall remains.
View of Manhattan from the Staten Island Ferry
While the Staten Island Ferry (in some form) has remained a staple of the waterways since 1810, when the first ferry service between Staten and Island and Manhattan began, the view has changed significantly over the years. This photo is from 1960, when the Woolworth Building still stood out.
One thing that remains in view is the Battery Maritime Building at 10 South Street. The Beaux-Arts ferry terminal (which is used for Governors Island ferries) was built between 1906 and 1909. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since the 1970s, but that's not stopping it from becoming home to a luxury hotel.
As part of our month-long Dear NYC series, we're looking through the New York Public Library's vast offering of photographs which span the history of the city. You can find these images through the NYPL’s Digital Collections portal, which is open to all.