Living in the City: An Inside Look at Four Decades of Changing Housing in New York City

“Living in the City: An Inside Look at Four Decades of Changing Housing in New York City” captures the dramatic changes that took place to the skyline, facades and faces of New York City from 1961 to 2001.

Featuring: Photographers employed by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and predecessor agencies.

Presented by

The NYC Municipal Archives at the Department of Records and Information Services

Curated by

Michael Lorenzini & Matt Minor

New York City is constantly changing. Cycles of growth, decay, and renewal have altered the bricks and mortar of its physical environment and the humans who live here. “Living in the City” vividly illustrates how the housing landscape in New York City changed during the four decades from 1961 to 2001. Selections from more than 150,000 historical photographs, recently acquired by the New York City Municipal Archives from the Department of Housing, Preservation & Development (HPD), illustrate both the human and physical aspects of these changes.

Throughout this period, talented HPD photographers documented their agency’s work to improve and preserve New York’s housing stock. Images from the 1960s depict a city little changed from earlier decades. But beginning in the 1970s, and gaining momentum through the 1980s and 1990s, the photographs show the massive city-wide preservation efforts that helped to restore dozens of neighborhoods. Rich with images of community residents, politicians and personalities, street scenes, storefronts and advertising, the photographs chronicle a city in transition.


The Department of Records and Information Services serves to foster civic life by preserving and providing access to the historical and contemporary records of New York City government. To achieve this, the Department ensures that city records are properly maintained, following professional archival and record management practices, and makes materials available to diverse communities both online and in person.

As the largest municipal housing agency in the nation, HPD promotes the construction and preservation of affordable, high-quality housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers, enforces the Housing Maintenance Code to ensure the quality and safety of the city’s housing stock, and engages in comprehensive planning to strengthen neighborhoods across the five boroughs.



April 2017 Ruth, 35 years old, has been workong with flowers since she arrived to the United States at the age of 18. She works in a flower truck on the corner of White Plaina Road and Story Ave with her 3 sons and others. This project explores self-employment in immigrant communities. © Tony Baizan / Bronx Documentary Center

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