Collection on Infrastructure, 18th – 20th century (bulk dates – 1724 – 2005)

Extent: 5 boxes, 3 oversize drawers
The Museum of the City of New York Collection on Infrastructure contains materials documenting the creation and evolution of the city’s infrastructure between the years of 1724 and 2005. The materials in this collection are related to the city’s fire and police departments, medical services, transportation, communication, water supply, and parks and cemeteries.

Historical Note
The creation of New York City’s infrastructure during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was an important factor in establishing New York as one of America’s preeminent cities. This collection documents the emergence of two of the city’s most transformative systems, water and transportation, among others. The introduction of fresh water into the city via the Croton Aqueduct in 1842 ameliorated many public health concerns and contributed to better fire protection. Rapid transportation systems, including the elevated railways and the subway, were crucial to the growth and expansion of New York City. Not only were they able to move large numbers of people throughout the city, but the subway lines extended into the city’s northern reaches, transforming farmland into new neighborhoods. The development of these and other important infrastructure systems such as the fire and police departments, helped make New York City the thriving metropolis it is today.

Scope and Content
The Museum of the City of New York’s Collection on Infrastructure consists of a variety of materials spanning from 1724 to 2005 and relating to New York City’s infrastructure. The bulk of the city’s infrastructure was built during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the materials in this collection illustrate the creation, development and operation of those systems, including: the Fire and Police Departments of the City of New York, transportation and communication systems, medical services, water supply, and parks and cemeteries. The main formats of material in the collection are tickets, schedules, receipts, business correspondence, maps, reports, and membership certificates. The fire department is one of the most largely represented systems. The series illustrates the prevalence of engine and ladder companies in city in the nineteenth century, and the evolution of firefighting technology. The collection also documents the creation and operation of New York’s multiple transportation systems, including the elevated railways and the subway.

Series I: Fire Department
Sub-Series A: Engine Companies and Associations
Sub-Series B: Administration
Sub-Series C: Equipment and Patents
Sub-Series D: Certificates
Series II: Police Department
Series III: Transportation
Sub-Series A: Air
Sub-Series B: Automobiles
Sub-Series C: Subway
Sub-Series D: Surface
Sub-Series E: Surface, to Points Outside of NY
Sub-Series F: Water
Series IV: Medical Services
Series V: Water Supply and Sewers
Series VI: Parks and Cemeteries
Series VII: Communication

Click her to view the full finding aid for the Collection on Infrastructure.

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The Museum is grateful for the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities; this collection was reprocessed as part of the NEH project Illuminating New York City History through Material Culture: A Proposal to Process, Catalog, Digitize, and Rehouse the Ephemera Collections of the Museum of the City of New York.
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