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Guide to the George P. Hall & Son Photograph Collection
 PR 24

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

New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Processed by Jennifer Lewis

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 29, 2022
Description is in English.

Scope and Content Note

The George P. Hall & Son Photograph Collection spans the period from 1876 through 1914 and consists of vintage glass negatives, vintage photographic logbooks, and modern photographic contact prints printed from 1965 to 1975 from Hall & Son's original oversize glass negatives. The collection is arranged into six series: Photographs of Manhattan; Photographs of Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island; Photographs Outside New York City; Photographs by Subject; Negatives; and Logbooks. Within each photographic subseries, photographs are divided into unmounted and mounted to accommodate preservation needs.

The large-format views in this collection provide clear, extremely detailed and flattering depictions of a variety of subjects, including Manhattan's early skyscrapers, hotels and theater exteriors, harbor activity, and downtown streets, as well as Brooklyn's business areas and resorts. George P. Hall & Son photographed the Battery skyline repeatedly from the 1880s to the 1910s, documenting the dramatic changes that occurred as New York progressed from a lowrise to a highrise city. Many of Hall & Son's views are notable for their high-angle perspectives. Like many commercial photographers of the time, Hall & Son focused on the highlights of New York; the newest skyscrapers, the record-breaking bridges, and the most popular theaters and attractions. Views in this collection also depict many of the United States Navy's new steel battleships of the 1890s. Also included are some views of the Hall's business premises and family members. Hall & Son primarily documented building exteriors; when interior views are available, this has been noted in the finding aid.

The photographic prints in this collection were made between 1965 and 1975 from George P. Hall & Son's original glass plate negatives ranging in size from 11 x 14 to 11 x 18 to 14 x 17 inches. The majority of the original negatives from which these prints were created have been destroyed. The prints produced between 1965 and 1970 by Klein Brothers are unmounted prints with a matte finish; these show a greater variety of tone than the later high-contrast, glossy prints produced by Compo Photocolor, The International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, and Wometco Photographic Services, which are mounted on paper board.

Some photographs bear brief descriptive captions, dates and negative numbers handwritten in block lettering on the original negatives and printed into the photographs. The majority of the photographs have been captioned on the verso by N-YHS staff; some of these descriptions correspond to those from the original negative sleeves, but many have been assigned progressively as staff members have researched photographs over the years. Some photographs have been given more detailed descriptions than others, reflecting this individual research.

Researchers should be aware that oversize negatives from a variety of other collections belonging to The New-York Historical Society were once integrated into the Hall Collection. While efforts were made during processing to separate out all materials that could be readily attributed to other photographers, some unmarked photographs within this collection may not be the work of George P. Hall & Son. Attributions of these photographs should be made with caution.


The collection is arranged in six series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Photographs of Manhattan
  2. Series II: Photographs of Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island
  3. Series III: Photographs Outside New York
  4. Series IV: Photographs by Subject
  5. Series V: Negatives
  6. Series VI: Logbooks