The NYC Landmarks Project


About the Project

The New York City Landmarks Project is a long-term and ongoing effort to produce a photographic essay on the many officially designated landmarks in the city. This is not primarily an architectural study. I am not an architectural photographer. I am not attempting to document the landmarks of my home city as purely aesthetic entities. I am not interested in structure, per se, or design. Rather, I take a social scientis'ts perspective on my subjects. That is to say, that I am trying to capture the landmarks of New York within their context of a living, breathing, and ever-changing urban landscape. Yes, these landmarks have stood the test of time (which is not say that they are in pristine, fossilized condition) and, yes, they are reminders of the past. But they are not relics. They are part of our contemporary metropolis and engage with us on a daily basis, just as we engage with them. Whatever their original use was, we have repurposed them to play a role in the modern life of New York.

When I photograph a landmark I try to capture not just its aesthetic qualities, but also the ways in which it intersects with the rest of the built landscape that surrounds it, much of which may have been constructed many years later. Most importantly, though, I try and capture the human aspect. We live in, work in, walk past and find entertainment within these landmarks every day. Some actually transport us physically. They play a role in our lives, whether as unnoticed backdrops or main characters. Regardless of whether we consciously acknowledge them or not, these landmarks form part of the living tissue of the great city of New York.

Don't look now, but you may be inside one or next to one or beneath one at this exact moment.

My primary goal is to photograph all of the National Historic Landmarks in the city. There are approximately 100 of these sprinkled throughout the five borroughs, though the greatest concentration of them can be found in Manhattan. This in and of itself is a daunting and tremendous task. However, I have trouble walking past any landmark without taking a picture.

My secondary goal is to photograph as many of the sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a I can. There are literally hundreds of these in the city and it would take a lifetime to photograph all of them, so I'll just do my best. If I attempted to add all the city designated landmarks on to the list as well, the task becomes herculean and never-ending, so that's where I draw the line.

Want to know more about National Historic Landmarks? Click here.