Photographer Angelo Antonio Rizzuto – or Anthony Angel, as he called himself – captured a variety of people, structures, and places in Manhattan over the eighteen-year period from 1949 through 1967. Collectively, the thousands of images by Angel in the Prints & Photographs Division offer a window into life and the built environment in a place that has no shortage of subjects to draw one’s eye.
Capitalizing on Angel’s coverage of nearly the entire length of Manhattan, Prints & Photographs Division Technical Services Technician Michelle An used Story Maps, a program that enables the creator to merge a narrative with mapping technology, to create a dynamic resource that encourages researchers to explore the collection in new ways: “Midcentury Manhattan: Mapping Anthony Angel’s photographic journey through Midtown Manhattan and beyond.”
The Story Map describes how attention to details in the photographs themselves – street signs, storefront advertising, distinctive architectural details, and more – enabled staff to identify specific location information. Library staff used this information to place a marker or spot for a given image on a map of Manhattan, and as a result, Story Map users can click on a marker to see a preview of that image along with a description and a link to the online catalog record. Below, you can see what it looks like to click on the spot corresponding to a view of “Broadway looking south from 72nd Street.” The Story Map provides links to a broad cross section of 465 images from the collection.
To ensure the markers appeared in the right place on the map, Michelle worked with Tim St. Onge from the Library’s Geography & Map Division to compile the map data. Michelle notes: “Tim was a huge help. He took our initial compilation of addresses and place names and converted the information to include latitude and longitude coordinates in the geographic coordinate system. He used a combination of AGOL geocoding and Google Maps to pinpoint accurate locations, which was especially helpful for features in Central Park for Gapstow Bridge and Wollman Rink, and Battery Park for the Netherland Monument and the Statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano.”
In addition to showing how researchers can explore the collection by interacting with the map, the “Midtown Manhattan” Story Map identifies and describes several categories of images that might be of interest to researchers, including bird’s eye views of Manhattan:
The Story Map calls attention to the many sculptures and architectural elements photographed by Angel:
Sidewalk portraits show Angel’s interest in photographing ordinary people as they went about their day. Geographic location is less of a focus for these images. Michelle adds, “I wanted to highlight photographs in the Story Map of people that did not make it into the mapped data. Angel captured fashion and street life of the inhabitants of New York City, especially of women. Be sure to check out additional candid photographs in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog by using the search term “woman” together with “Anthony Angel” to find more images like the photograph below.”
Unlike the images shown above in the blog post, the following photograph does not have a marker on the map due to a lack of location information, but it is featured as a standalone image in the Story Map.
Similarly, this image is included in the section featuring photographers in action:
Perhaps my favorite part of the “Midcentury Manhattan” Story Map is the “Test your Skills” section, which prompts you to look at a couple of photographs closely, initially withholding title information so that you can read the image on its own before clicking on a supplied link to the full online catalog record description. This is a fun exercise for those of us interested in exercising our visual literacy skills.
We hope this brief introduction entices you to explore more on your own.
- Explore the “Midcentury Manhattan: Mapping Anthony Angel’s photographic journey through Midtown Manhattan and beyond” Story Map by Michelle An.
- Read other Picture This blog posts about the Anthony Angel collection: Through the Eyes of an Angel: New York Photos by Anthony Angel and Ready for Research: the Anthony Angel Collection
- Browse the digitized images from the Anthony Angel collection.