For the first time in 12 years New Yorkers are electing a mayor who is not Michael Bloomberg, leading to all sorts of reminiscing about how he’s changed the city. These photos offer a twist: grisly historical crimes, juxtaposed against Bloomberg’s sanitised modern-day New York City.
Photographer and historian of the New York Press Photographers Association Marc Hermann dove into the New York Daily News archive to find historic crime scenes, and mashed them up with photographs of the same locations today. The resulting images provide a haunting window into the tragic events of the past, like a Noir film playing out in real time on an empty city block.
What’s perhaps most striking about these images is how much New York hasn’t changed. For the most part many of the buildings are still intact, and it’s delightful to see the subtle evolution of details like streetsigns. Plus there’s something about seeing the black-and-white crime scenes in contemporary settings, which desensitizes the violence somewhat by removing it from its context.
Documenting crime is a critical part of a city’s history, but Hermann hears plenty of reactions from readers who object to seeing these scenes so graphically portrayed. “People seem to have righteous indignation in the comments section of news stories when we show tragic scenes as they occur today,” he says. He produced these images, in part, to illustrate the timelessness of human suffering. “I often remind people that a victim in 1943 is the same as a victim in 2013, and today’s photographers are making an important record of history that will, with the passage of time, be regarded as ‘classic.'” [New York Daily News via Fast Co.Exist]
Gangster Salvatore Santoro lies dead in a Brooklyn vestibule on January 31, 1957.
Another gangster, Frankie Yale, killed by a drive-by in Brooklyn in 1928.
A stolen car smashed into the streetlight at Classon Avenue and Pacific Street in Brooklyn, 1957.
A tragic photo from 1959 after three-year-old Martha Cartagena was killed while riding her tricycle in Brooklyn.
In 1960, United Airlines Flight 826 and Trans World Airlines Flight 266 collided over Park Slope in Brooklyn, killing 130 people.
In 1958 there was a fatal fire at the Elkins Paper & Twine Co. on Wooster Street in SoHo. The building burned to the ground.
A gas explosion shattered this Court Street facade in Brooklyn on January 31, 1961.
1961 must have been a really bad year. Here is James Linares with his girlfriend Josephine Dexidor after being shot by her husband in a Bronx stairwell.
Top image: On March 19, 1942 Edna Egbert fought with police after she climbed on her Dean Street ledge in Brooklyn.