Digitization

NYU Engineering School to Digitize 120 Years of City Record Issues

New York University'sTandon School of Engineering has received more than a quarter of a million dollars to digitize The City Record, a newspaper recording legal, real estate and government news in New York City for the past 140 years.

The National Endowment for the Humanities gave the school a $260,000 grant for the project that will be headed by Professor Jonathan Soffer, chair of the Department of Technology, Culture and Society at the engineering school.

The plan is to digitize 1,723 volumes — 1 million pages — from the City Record for the years between 1873 and 1998 when the daily newspaper became available online.

The digitized material will be available to the public at no cost via nyc.gov and can be used for research by students, bankers, home buyers, historians and journalists, among others.

The City Record has been published every weekday since 1873. It was founded in the wake of the Tweed Ring scandals of that year in an effort to make government more transparent. Among the types of information in its pages are:

  • Minutes of every city council and board of estimate meeting;
  • Contracts, payments and bids for water, sewers and streets;
  • The disposition of lawsuits against the city; and
  • Weekly reports of death, health and weather.

"We believe that the digitization of The City Record will have an important impact on urban history and economics, and across the social science disciplines," Soffer said. "Due to the location of the portal on the heavily used nyc.gov Web site and the diversity of the data, we believe that this project will have an unusually large audience."

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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