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Guide to the William Grabowski Photographs
1980s, 2004-2022
 PR 321

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Marybeth Kavanagh (2016), Larry Weimer (2018-22)

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 19, 2022
Finding aid is in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents Note

The collection consists of about 1,160 color prints of digital snapshots of New York City. The prints are typically 19 inches x 13 inches. All five of the city's boroughs are represented in the photographs, especially Manhattan (530 photographs), Brooklyn (268), and Queens (205). The bulk of the photographs were taken from 2014-2021; two are from the 1980s and a few range from 2004-2012 and 2022. Each image was labeled with a title and date by the photographer.

One dominant emphasis of the photographs is New York's built environment. This is found in exterior views of a wide range of buildings and other structures: museums, Broadway theaters (especially marquees), sports stadiums (specifically, Yankee Stadium and the Mets' Citifield), bridges, corporate towers, airports (especially JFK), churches, and others. Several of these photographs have a skyline orientation, rather than a focus on a particular building. The photographs are generally of exteriors.

Many of the photographs are of particular unique, often transient, details found on these buildings. The marquees of theaters announcing the production showing at the time is one example. Another are the extensive sets of photographs of street art/murals found throughout the city. The murals of 5 Pointz in Queens (destroyed in 2013-14), at Bushwick Collective in Brooklyn, at Welling Court in Queens, and the Audubon Mural Project in Harlem are well-represented in the collection. There are photographs of the Christmas holiday decorations of residences in Brooklyn's Dyker Heights neighborhood. Sets of photographs taken at the 2017 and 2020 Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden provide close-ups of many of the replica miniatures of buildings shown at the event.

Although pedestrians and street life are not major subjects found throughout the collection, one exception to this is the Times Square area. There are many photographs that capture the flavor of the area, from street vendors to the character actors to the crowds to the surrounding buildings and large-scale signage. The Pride March of 2017, Women's March of 2017, street fairs in Queens, and other such events are also included to a limited extent. There are a small number of photographs of homeless or panhandling individuals.

Finally, parks and other places of relative quiet in the city appear, such as those of Central Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Pratt Institute's outdoor sculptures, Flushing Meadow Park, Roosevelt Island, and others.


The photographs are organized in seven series, representing New York City's five boroughs plus two series for photographs not related to any particular borough.

Series I. Manhattan (530 photographs)
Series II. Bronx (73 photographs)
Series III. Brooklyn (268 photographs)
Series IV. Queens (205 photographs)
Series V. Staten Island (13 photographs)
Series VI. Bridges, Tunnels & Ferries (57 photographs)
Series VII. Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island (18 photographs)

Within each series, the photographs are organized by general subject. The series and subject categorizations were established by the processing archivists to facilitate access to the hundreds of photographs. The photographer labeled all photographs with a file name based on the specific subject and (often) the year/month of the image.