Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
The New York Public Library's new interactive tool makes it easier than ever to peruse Roy Colmer's unique photo project.
David Lowe, a specialist at the New York Public Library's photography division, built a pretty nifty interactive tool that made its debut on the NYPL's site earlier this month. Through it, users can navigate artist Roy Colmer's Doors, NYC project, which consists of over 3,000 photographs of Manhattan doorways, taken between November 1975 and September 1976.
Colmer, who died last year, recorded his trips for the project in a 12-volume index, mapping the intersection, block and the side of the street for each door. While he was meticulous, the London-born artist took an equal-opportunity approach to his subjects.
"I was not concerned with the particular street, historic or architectural importance of the door," he told Jeremiah Moss of Vanishing New York in 2013, adding that he didn't want "tension or drama to appear in the project."
The result is a remarkable collection of sometimes unremarkable photos. Doors, NYC had already been digitized by the NYPL, but Lowe's efforts present it in a way that makes looking through 3,000 photos of doors in a single city a manageable feat. Click any red dot on the map and you're presented with one of Colmer's doors, an address for it, and a link to a Google Street View glimpse of the same spot today.
If this seems like a great way to present urban photography collections, the NYPL agrees. They've recently given Dinanda Nooney's look into the homes of 1970s Brooklynites the same interactive treatment.