Revisiting the Fairchild Aerial Surveys of New York City from the 1940s [PHOTOS]

Posted on: January 20th, 2014 at 5:26 am by
Willaimsburg Bridge and Corlears Hook, ca. 1947; Photo: NYS Digital Archives

Willaimsburg Bridge and Corlears Hook, ca. 1947; Photo: NYS Digital Archives

Sherman Mills Fairchild, American businessman and inventor, was denied military entry as a pilot during World War I. He was determined to help the war effort, though, and instead honed his energy to develop an advanced aerial camera. Fairchild would eventually win a government contract for his cameras, and by the second World War, 90% of the flight-equipped cameras were of Fairchild design.

Fairchild then turned his attention to our great city, commissioning aerial surveys. These photographs would become commercially popular, and Fairchild Aerial Surveys was born. Lucky for us, the New York State Archives categorically collected the results of these missions, and posted them online.


Stuy Town looking northwest, ca. 1948; Photo: NYS Digital Archives

We’ve included stunning images of the Lower East Side, Stuyvesant Town, SoHo, and Lower Manhattan, all snapped between 1947 and 1951. The neighborhoods are simply breathtaking.

[h/t Steve Hernandez]

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