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Spotlight on the Public Domain

The Bronx in the Public Domain

This is one of a series of blog posts related to the NYPL Public Domain Release: discover the collections and find inspiration for using them in your own research, teaching, and creative practice.

You've probably seen, read or heard a few of the numerous news reports on the recent release of over 180,000 digitized images by the New York Public Library into the public domain. Incredible, right? Well, what is even more incredible is that over 2,000 of these images are from the Bronx. You might be able to see what your neighborhood looked like 100 years ago! This post will highlight some the treasures from the Bronx which are part of this incredible gold mine of historic images now freely available for all to peruse and use at their leisure.

Stereoscopic views (3D images) of the Bronx

Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame Image ID: G91F287_003F

Real Estate Advertisement and Notices

Don't you wish you could buy a lot for $50 or $20 now? More on these land auctions in Kate's post.

Real Estate
Image ID: 5085870


A small selection of programs including menus and after dinner talks at various auspicious events held in the Bronx. I'll take a pass on the Green Turtle Madere and the Pall Mall Cigarettes below.

10 th Annual Banquet of the Bronx County Bar Association,1914. at Schnorer Club House. Image ID: 4058617


Maps - Bronx Road Atlas

The Atlas of the City of New York: Borough of the Bronx ... from the actual surveys and official plans [1911 -1913]. Published by G.W. Bromley. This entire atlas has been digitized page by page. I decided to look up Kingsbridge Road and Fordham Road where the Bronx Library Center is currently located. First, I checked the Street Index arranged alphabetically to find Fordham Road. This led me to Plate 26 - the image below. The first thing I noticed was that the short walkway directly in front of the Bronx Library Center leading to Bainbridge Avenue—Briggs Avenue—is actually called "Coles Lane" in the 1911 map. Needless to say, I referred to it as "the little alley way." Now I can refer to it by its proper name.

You've probably heard that the current location of Poe's Cottage is not the original location—it was obliquely across from its current location. This map would confirm that.

Look up your neighborhood and try to see what has changed since 1911. Be sure to use the zoom tool to see all the details up close. Feel free to share your findings in the comment section below.

Fordham area
Plate 26 [Map bounded by Valentine Ave., E. 197th St., Webster Ave., Washington Ave., E. 188th St.] Image ID: 2020935

Historic Photographs

While not part of the public domain release, we have a huge collection of historical Bronx photographs featuring many street views and buildings. See if a street or building you know is featured.

Southern Blvd
877 Southern Boulevard - Tiffany Street. Image ID 1557756

Other highlights you'll definitely want to view:


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Permission of use

Hello! I am a native of the Bronx; I am working on a book to be published soon It will consist of pictures from my hometown, and it will be distributed as an "Adult Coloring Book" for sale. I could not continue without writing to you in regards to the use of some of these old pictures that are so amazingly beautiful, and I would love to add them to my collection. But I need to know if these are public domain are we as the user allowed to use them in a book that will be for sale to the public?. Thank you in advance for any prompt response and feedback to this concern. Best regards, Julia R.

Hi Julia, very happy to hear

Hi Julia, very happy to hear about your project! You will have to look at each image you are interested in using for details on its copyright status. When an item says “no known U.S. copyright restrictions" we believe that the item has no known U.S. copyright restrictions. You do not need our permission to reuse these materials. More information:

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