While walking in New York, I pass by numerous buildings from crumbling brownstones to gleaming high-rise apartments. This patchwork of old and new makes Manhattan feel like a living museum. However, a lot of these buildings and their histories are taken for granted, neglected, or simply unknown. While ordinary buildings you see and pass by every day might not seem as significant as artworks or other historical artifacts, they are the components that make up the city that we live in and closely intertwine with our daily lives—through these buildings we can see how our lives have changed.
However, it is not easy to learn, know, and remember how these buildings have changed throughout the years. One would have to go to a place such as the NYC Municipal Archives or Department of City Planning and search addresses to find information and past photos of buildings. If people cease to remember the city, their history will disappear. This project, Manhattan Street Museum is a virtual space where people can walk around Manhattan—as they would in real life—to see, compare, and learn about how the city’s buildings have changed. The interface shows images of individual buildings over an 80-year span, making history visible at a single location the user selects. Observing how these buildings have been renovated, altered, or torn down, we can see that the city we live in today is a reflection of years of effort and imagine how the city might change in the future.