Man using a laptop computer with a website search bar

Did you ever want to know who lived in your apartment decades or even centuries ago? Or who owned your building when it was first built? Or how old that warehouse on your block is, and what was there in, say, the 18th century? Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available online for you to satisfy that curiosity and gain a deeper understanding of your community and your city.

We’ve assembled these resources from city, state, library, educational, and other organizations — including our own — here for your research endeavors. The sites have been categorized for ease of use by topic:

Please note that, while there is a wealth of resources available for researching historic properties in New York City, record-keeping has not always been consistent over the years, and even good sources may have errors. You may need to cross-reference several sources to find the information you need, and cross reference to check that the information you’ve found is accurate and complete. Each repository has its own wealth of information.

Feel free to share any historical details you uncover that might be useful to Village Preservation’s efforts or any additional resources with us by emailing info@villagepreservation.org.

Building Histories and Construction Dates

Logo of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the largest municipal preservation agency in the nation, and provides a wealth of resources on its website.
Screenshot: NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission landmarks map
The Landmarks Preservation Commission’s official landmarks map offers detailed information for all buildings and sites within individual landmarks and historic districts.
MYC Department of Buildings logo
The NYC Department of Buildings enforces compliance with regulations and promotes worker and public safety through its review and approval of building plans, permitting and licensing functions, and inspections.
Screenshot of Village Preservation’s East Village Building Blocks site
Our own East Village Building Blocks website features a unique block finder to uncover the history of each block in the community as well as guided tours and other resources.
Office for Metropolitan History screenshot
The Office for Metropolitan History provides research on NYC buildings and embraces a synthetic approach to historical data, bringing together disparate sources in individual collections.
Sanborn Fire Map of Greenwich Village, section, via New York Public Library collection
Among the thousands of maps the New York Public Library has digitized are Sanborn fire insurance maps, some of the most detailed city maps ever published.
Screenshot: Columbia University’s digital collections
Columbia University’s digital collections include The Real Estate Record, a weekly report of building activity in New York City and its environs published from 1868 to 1922.
Daytonian in Manhattan screenshot
Daytonian in Manhattan highlights stories behind the buildings, statues ,and other points of interest that make Manhattan fascinating.

Architectural Features

Screenshot: Columbia University’s NY Real Estate Brochure Collection
Columbia University’s New York Real Estate Brochure Collection consists of more than 9,200 advertising brochures, floorplans, and related materials that document real estate development in the city and environs from the 1920s to the 1970s
NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development logo
Use the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s HPD Online to find building data and information about complaints and litigation, property registration, violations and charges, and block and lot information.

Historic Photos

Village Preservation Historic Image Archive Screenshot
Village Preservation’s Historic Image Archive highlights the history of the people and built environment of Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo, and New York City in general.
NY Historical Society logo
The New-York Historical Society’s growing digital library now includes thousands of photographs of New York City, Revolutionary Era maps, and numerous other historical resources.
Screenshot: NYPL Digital Collections
Explore 908,483 items digitized from The New York Public Library’s collections, with new materials added every day.
OldNYC website screenshot
OldNYC provides an alternative means of browsing the NYPL’s incredible Photographic Views of New York City, 1870s-1970s collection.
Urban Archive logo
Urban Archive is a platform for cities, museums, libraries, and urban explorers to enhance collection engagement and digital storytelling — and offers a range of photo-base tours from Village Preservation and others.
Library of Congress Digital Collections screenshot
The wide-ranging digital collections of the Library of Congress includes images from the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey.
Street View of 1940s New York screenshot
The Street View of 1940s New York site organizes NYC’s 1940s tax photos in an easy-to-use map of all five boroughs.
Screenshot: NYC Municipal Archives Tax Photos, 1940s
Explore the original NYC Municipal Archives’ Tax Photos from the 1940s, organized by the Works Progress Administration.
Street View of 1980s New_York_screenshot
The Street View of 1980s New York site organizes NYC’s 1980s color tax photos in an easily accessible map.
Screenshot: NYC Municipal Archives Tax Photos, 1980s
The NYC Finance Department’s site with photographs of every property in the five boroughs, in color.
Museum of the City of New York logo
Explore New York’s past through nearly 205,000 objects from the
collection of the Museum of the City of New York
.

Past Inhabitants

Screenshot: Title Page, NYC Directory 1854
The New York Public Library offers full NYC Directories that record the names and addresses of city residents, businesses, and more from 1786 to 1934.
Screenshot: Hathi Trust Digital Library, NYC Directories
The Hathi Trust Digital Library provides digitized versions of many other NYC directories.
ACRIS screenshot
The Automated City Register Information System lets you search NYC’s deeds and mortgages.

Additional Historic Maps

Screenshot: Map of North Division, Protestant Episcopal Church Property, 1881
Map of the North Division of the Protestant Episcopal Church Property and Adjoining Properties of Aaron Burr, Mary Barclay, Anthony Lispenard and Others, 1882
Title page section for 1860s NYC Atlas via New York Public Library collection
The New York Public Library’s Atlases of New York City (Manhattan)
Screenshot: Bromley’s Manhattan Atlas 1921
Atlas of the Borough of Manhattan, Pocket Edition, published by G.W. Bromley & Co., 1921

Other Resources

Village Preservation’s South of Union Square map

Screenshot: Village Preservation’s Greenwich Village Historic District Tours
Village Preservation’s Greenwich Village Historic District Then & Now Photos and Tours
Screenshot: Village Preservation’s Social Justice and Civil Rights Map
Village Preservation’s Social Justice and Civil Rights Map, for Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo.
Cover photo, History of the East Village
Village Preservation’s A History of the East Village and Its Architecture by Francis Morrone
New York Times logo
The New York Times article archive from 1851 to the present
Screenshot: NY Historic Newspapers site
NYS Historic Newspapers site for Manhattan

Photo by Suriyawut/Vecteezy