Larry Racioppo photograph collection
Language of Materials
The Larry Racioppo photograph collection spans the period from 1989-2017 and contains approximately 932 color and black and white photographs of New York City taken by Racioppo. The bulk of the collection are images of distressed neighborhoods taken while Racioppo worked as a photographer at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and of churches in the five boroughs, some housed in former theaters, synagogues, and storefronts.
Larry Racioppo (1947- ) was born in Brooklyn, NY. A New York City-based photographer, his work focuses on the urban landscape. Racioppo had his first solo exhibition in 1977 at Brooklyn's f-stop gallery, and in 1980 published his first book of photographs, Halloween.
Racioppo worked as the official photographer for New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) from 1989 to 2011. He was hired by HPD to document the city's rebuilding of its distressed neighborhoods, from Bedford Stuyvesant to Harlem to the South Bronx.
When he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography in 1997, Racioppo took a leave from HPD to create a series of panoramic urban landscapes. He returned to HPD to coordinate an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York documenting the agency's work. While continuing to photograph for HPD, Racioppo had solo exhibitions of two in-depth personal projects: Forgotten Gateway: The Abandoned Buildings of Ellis Island at the National Building Museum, and The Word on The Street at the Museum of Biblical Art.The New-York Historical Society commissioned Racioppo to document St.Paul's Chapel during its use as a relief center after the Sept.11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Racioppo's work is also held at the Museum of the City of New York, The Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Public Library, El Museo del Barrio, and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
The collection is organized by subject in five series:
Series I: New York City after September 11, 2001
Series II: New York City Churches
Series III: New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development
Series IV: Photographs from The Word on the Street: The Photographs of Larry Racioppo
Series V: Chapbooks
Scope and Contents
The Larry Racioppo photograph collection consists of approximately 932 photographs taken by Racioppo from 1989-2017. The collection includes both black and white and color prints.
Series I: New York City after September 11, 2001 is composed of 35 contact prints from 4 x 5 inch color negatives and 19 photographs. It contains images of the interior and exterior of St. Paul's Chapel during its use as a relief center after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including memorials on surrounding fences; portraits of the first responders and rescue workers who were employed at Ground Zero and the support staff at St. Paul's Chapel who tended to the workers and others in the area. It also includes images of the interior and exterior of the building housing Rescue Company 2, a New York City Fire Department company in Brooklyn that sustained heavy losses on September 11; and one photograph of the funeral of firefighter John Moran, who died on September 11. Most of these images were commissioned by the New-York Historical Society in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, or for related exhibitions at the Society in the following years.
Series II: New York City Churches, contains 97 color photographs documenting churches in the five boroughs, many adapted from former theaters, synagogues, and storefronts. Prints are in four sizes (in inches): 8 x 10, 11 x 14, 11 x 17, and 20 x 24.
Series III: New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development is composed of approximately 765 photographs taken while Racioppo worked as the official photographer for New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). He was hired by HPD in 1989 to document the city's rebuilding of its distressed neighborhoods, from Bedford Stuyvesant to Harlem to the South Bronx. The subjects of these photos include demolition, construction, and before and after images of rehabilitated apartment buildings and playgrounds. There are also portraits of tenants in their apartments, squatters, homeless people, building managers, building superintendents, construction workers, HPD staff and program participants, and city and state officials such as Mayor Edward Koch, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and Governor Mario Cuomo. This series also contains photos of dilapidated buildings (interior and exterior), unsafe living conditions, evictions, crack house interiors, drug paraphernalia, and graffiti.
Series IV: Photographs from The Word on the Street: The Photographs of Larry Racioppo, contains 16 chromogenic dye coupler prints documenting vernacular displays of religious iconography around New York City. The prints are signed, titled and dated on recto by the photographer. The images were published in the exhibition catalogue produced by the Museum of Biblical Art to accompany The Word on the Street: The Photographs of Larry Racioppo (June 15-August 20, 2006).
Series V: Chapbooks, contains 4 self-published booklets of Racioppo's work.
Materials in this collection may be stored offsite. For more information on making arrangements to consult them, please visit www.nyhistory.org/library/visit.
Taking images of documents from the library collections for reference purposes by using hand-held cameras and in accordance with the library's photography guidelines is encouraged. As an alternative, patrons may request up to 20 images per day from staff.
Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.
Copyrights and other proprietary rights may subsist in individuals and entities other than the New-York Historical Society, in which case the patron is responsible for securing permission from those parties. For fuller information about rights and reproductions from N-YHS visit: https://www.nyhistory.org/about/rights-reproductions
This collection should be cited as: Larry Racioppo photograph collection, PR 208, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Series I: Most of the photographs in this group were either commissioned by the New-York Historical Society or were printed for exhibition purposes. The St. Paul's Chapel and rescue workers images were done by Racioppo on commission from N-YHS (2002). The fireman's funeral image was donated by Racioppo, February 2003. The 2004 rescue images may have been a donation from Racioppo but that is uncertain.
Series II: Gift of Larry Racioppo, 2017 (accession no. PPAC-2017-82).
Series III: Gift of Larry Racioppo, 2017 (accession no. PPAC-2017-88).
Series IV: Gift of Bruce Berman and Lea Russo, 2016 (accession no. PPAC-2016-47).
Series V: Gift of Larry Racioppo, 2017 (accession no. PPAC-2017-82).
About this Guide
The original processing and finding aid for Series I and II were prepared by Jenny Gotwals and Kelly McAnnaney in 2007. In 2017, new material was added and the collection was reprocessed and the finding aid rewritten by Marybeth Kavanagh. Joseph Ditta significantly expanded Series II and added Series V in November 2018.