The New York Public Library Celebrates William Meyers and His ‘Outer Boroughs: New York Beyond Manhattan’ Photographs

New exhibition William Meyers: Outer Boroughs opens March 27 at the Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street

MARCH 11, 2015 — The New York Public Library is bringing the outer boroughs to Manhattan beginning on March 27, with the opening of the new free photography exhibition William Meyers: Outer Boroughs at its landmark 42nd Street library.

The show features 86 prints by American photographer William Meyers, who for nearly two decades used his camera to capture underexplored areas of Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island.

Beginning in 1990, Meyers traveled from his home in Manhattan to random stops throughout the outer boroughs, letting the unfamiliar streets guide his photography. Traversing neighborhoods such as Astoria, Co-Op City, and Bensonhurst, Meyers photographed the intricacies of daily life as he encountered them, fortuitously filling an important void in the photography of a changing city.

The exhibition is the first time that the complete collection of these photographs— entitled “Outer Boroughs: New York Beyond Manhattan” and acquired by The New York Public Library in 2008—is being displayed.

The show will run through June 30 in the Stokes and Print Galleries on the third floor of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.

I consider myself an art photographer, not a documentarian, so when I was working on the project I had no sense of creating a comprehensive record of anything,” said Meyers. “But when the thousands of pictures I took were edited down, ‘Outer Boroughs’ acquired a documentary aspect. The outer boroughs have changed so dramatically in the last decade that, to a considerable extent, the city I photographed no longer exists. However, the essence of New York has always been reinvention.”

“Extending street photography beyond the landscape of Manhattan, William Meyers surveys the city’s constant evolution through an exploration of the everyday life of overlooked places,” said Stephen Pinson, the Library’s Robert B. Menschel Curator of Photography. “His work skillfully blends documentary with artfulness and exemplifies the collection’s—and the Library’s—mission to be a home for preservation and culture.”

The exhibition coincides with the publication of William Meyers’s new book, Outer Boroughs: New York Beyond Manhattan, published by Damiani, and the Library’s presentation of Public Eye: 175 Years of Sharing Photography, an exhibition featuring hundreds of images from the Library’s renowned Photography Collection. That free exhibition will be on view through January 3, 2016 in Gottesman Hall of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

This exhibition has been made possible by the continuing generosity of Miriam and Ira D. Wallach.

Support for The New York Public Library’s Exhibitions Program has been provided by Celeste Bartos, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Mahnaz Ispahani Bartos and Adam Bartos Exhibitions Fund, and Jonathan Altman.

Media Contact:

Sara Beth Joren |


About the Photography Collection

The Photography Collection of The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs comprises approximately 400,000 photographs, including examples of almost every photographic process from the earliest daguerreotypes to contemporary digital images.

The Photography Collection was developed in 1980 when images culled from other NYPL departments and branches were brought together to form a new division. The historically stated focus of the collection has been “documentary photography,” a term originally coined in the 1930s to describe the work of photographers who attempted to document specific social conditions. The Photography Collection, which has significant holdings in this area, actually encompasses a much broader range of the medium, including images made for commercial, industrial, and scientific applications as well as images for the press and other print media, the vernacular of amateur snapshot photography, and original works intended for exhibition and/or the art market.

Future collection activity and development will focus on fulfilling its role as the most accessible public resource in New York City for the study of photographs and the history of photography. For more information on the Photography Collection, please visit for a video about the collection.

About The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at