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New York University Archives Photograph Collection

Call Number



1850s-2000s, inclusive


New York University


478 Linear Feet in 478 boxes

Language of Materials

Materials primarily in English.


The collection contains photographs that document the history of New York University and it surrounding environs, especially Washington Square Park and Greenwich Village. It includes images associated with NYU's various component schools and its former University Heights campus (now Bronx Community College).

Historical Note

The bulk of this collection contains photographic and print images of Washington Square Park and the surrounding area. Buildings that are part of New York University's Washington Square campus, extant as well as demolished are included in this collection.

There is a separate series for the the University Building, New York University's first permanent home. It was constructed on the northeast corner of the park between Washington Place and Waverly Place in 1833-34. Architects Ithiel Town, Alexander Jackson Davis, and James Dakin as well as NYU engineering professor David B. Douglass designed the university's first building in the Gothic Revival-style. This type of architectural style was meant to evoke the medieval buildings of Oxford and Cambridge and link the more modern and practical American curriculum the university was founded on to the long, rich tradition of English education.

Initially, the building was too large for the student body to fill so residential rooms, studios, and laboratories were rented out to a variety of artists and inventors including Winslow Homer and Samuel F.B. Morse. In the late 19th century as the university expanded, the undergraduate college moved to the more spacious University Heights campus in the Bronx initially leading to the decline of the Washington Square campus and in 1894 the University Building was demolished. It was replaced by Main Building (now the Silver Center).


"The University Building." The University Quarterly 17 (May 1894): 116-123. "University Building." New York University Education Quarterly (Spring 1981): 20.


The collection is organized into 33 series.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains photographs that document the history of New York University and it surrounding environs, especially Washington Square Park and Greenwich Village. It includes images associated with NYU's various component schools and its former University Heights campus (now Bronx Community College).

Access Restrictions

Materials are open without restrictions.

Use Restrictions

Because of the assembled nature of this collection, copyright status varies across the collection. Copyrights held by original creators of individual items in the collection are expected to pass into the public domain 120 years after their creation. For more information, contact New York University Archives, (212) 998-2646,

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); New York University Archives Photograph Collection; box number; folder number;
New York University Archives, New York University


The Photography Collection consists of photographs that were separated from university administrative collections or received as part of regular accessions from the University Photo Bureau. The Photo Bureau was founded in 1952, and archived their own collections until the mid-1980s, when they began regularly transferring prints, contact sheets and negatives to the University archives. All prints received from the Photo Bureau and those separated from administrative collections were incoporated into existing subject-based series. The Washington Square Park and Washington Square Area series represent the subject categories selected by the University Archives for digitization in the Spring of 2008.

Related Material at the New York University Archives

Guide to the Records of the Washington Square Association, Inc. 1908-1979

Collection processed by

Finding aid prepared by David O'Neill and Lisa Darms.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-01-12 12:19:07 -0500.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Finding aid written in English.

Processing Information

This finding aid is the result of the New York University Bobst Library's Digital Pilot Project, a case study in special collections digitization, undertaken as a collaboration between the University Archives, The Barbara Goldsmith Preservation and Conservation Department, and Digital Library Technical Services, with the support of the developers of The Archivists' Toolkit. The goals of the project were to create a Washington Square Image website for the UA that integrated high quality digital images into an item-level EAD finding aid; to train the UA staff in preservation scanning and metadata creation, and to create guides for these processes that can be used for future projects.

Primary project support was provided by David O'Neill, Melitte Buchman, Brian Hoffman, Nancy Cricco and Paula DeStefano. Scanning and metadata creation for the Digital Pilot Project by David O'Neill, Peter Asch, Janet Bunde, Lisa Darms, Steven D'Avria, Annie Grunow, William McKeldin, Alex Starace and Laura Zeccardi.

Processing Information

In July 2016, boxes from the Washington Square Area, University Building, and Washington Square Campus Buildings series were renumbered. These numbers were later superceded (see below).

In May 2019, previously undescribed materials were added to the finding aid, and boxes for the entire collection were renumbered in numerical order.

One oversized photograph (Senior Ball, 1934) was added to New York University Archives Collection of Building Drawings and Large-Format Materials (OS) at an unknown date. In 2024, that photograph was moved to this collection.

Revisions to this Guide

September 2018: Updated by Stacey Flatt to include accession 2018.027,
May 2019: Updated by Jacqueline Rider to include previously undescribed materials in University Archives,
June 2019: Collection level description updated by John Zarrillo to account for previously undescribed materials in University Archives


New York University Archives
New York University Archives
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012