PetaPixel

Then-and-Now Images of NYC Created by Blending in Vintage Crime Scene Photos

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Then-and-now photos are always fascinating to see. Historical scenes come to life when blended into or placed side-by-side with modern-day photographs of cities we all know very well. Be it Paris, New York or San Francisco, most of the best-known cities have gotten the then-and-now treatment to great effect by many a photographer.

The most recent Then and Now series we’ve run across, however, isn’t just meant to show how the scenery has changed. When photographer and historian Marc A. Hermann created the images, he purposely used only vintage (Note: and sometimes gruesome) crime scene photos to fill in the “then” part.

All of the old photos were pulled from the New York Daily News’ archive, which contains nearly a century of NYC’s photographic history. Through them, people who only know the more “sanitized” New York City of today are offered a glimpse into the Big Apple’s seedy past.

Photographer and creator of this series Marc A. Hermann standing next to the shadow of his colleagues from 70 years ago.

Photographer and creator of this series Marc A. Hermann standing next to the shadow of his colleagues from 70 years ago.

“I have always been a fan of the work of our predecessors in the New York City photojournalism community,” said Hermann when he spoke with Co.Create about the series. “And it didn’t take long for me to think that something similar could be done with the lesser-known ‘war zones’ of our streets during the days of Murder, Inc.”

At the top we have a photo taken on March 19, 1942, which shows Edna Egbert out on the ledge of her apartment on 497 Dean St. in Brooklyn, fighting with police. Below you’ll find the rest of the series, complete with captions to fill in the context:

James Linares lays bleeding in the arms of his girlfriend Josephine Dexidor on September 25th, 1961 after being shot by her husband.

James Linares lays bleeding in the arms of his girlfriend Josephine Dexidor on September 25th, 1961 after being shot by her husband.

The wreckage of United Airlines Flight 826 and Trans World Airlines Flight 266, which crashed over NYC in December of 1960.

The wreckage of United Airlines Flight 826 and Trans World Airlines Flight 266, which crashed over NYC in December of 1960.

A stolen car is shown crashed into the light pole at the corner of Classon Ave. and Pacific St. on July 28, 1957.

A stolen car is shown crashed into the light pole at the corner of Classon Ave. and Pacific St. on July 28, 1957.

An M-7 tank destroyer being transported from City Hall to the Public Library on 42nd St. to be put on display on July 22, 1943.

An M-7 tank destroyer being transported from City Hall to the Public Library on 42nd St. to be put on display on July 22, 1943.

The aftermath of a car wreck that took the life of three-year-old Martha Cartagena, who was riding her tricycle when she was struck and killed on Porter Ave. in Brooklyn on April 4th, 1959.

The aftermath of a car wreck that took the life of three-year-old Martha Cartagena, who was riding her tricycle when she was struck and killed on Porter Ave. in Brooklyn on April 4th, 1959.

This photo shows the death of gangster Frankie Yale, whose car slammed into the steps of a Brooklyn home after he was shot from an adjacent car on July 1st, 1928.

This photo shows the death of gangster Frankie Yale, whose car slammed into the steps of a Brooklyn home after he was shot from an adjacent car on July 1st, 1928.

The aftermath of a massive and fatal fire at the Elkins Paper & Twine Co. on Wooster St. on February 16th, 1958.

The aftermath of a massive and fatal fire at the Elkins Paper & Twine Co. on Wooster St. on February 16th, 1958.

Firefighters try to put out the fire that tore through the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary & St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church in January of 1951.

Firefighters try to put out the fire that tore through the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary & St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church in January of 1951.

The aftermath of a massive gas explosion that blew out the windows of the building on 66 Court St. on January 31st, 1961.

The aftermath of a massive gas explosion that blew out the windows of the building on 66 Court St. on January 31st, 1961.

Firefighters work to put out a blaze at 31 Grand St. in Brooklyn in February of 1946.

Firefighters work to put out a blaze at 31 Grand St. in Brooklyn in February of 1946.

Detective Michael Dwyer seen here after he committed suicide on Sunday July 30, 1950 in Prospect Park.

Detective Michael Dwyer seen here in Prospect Park after he committed suicide on Sunday July 30, 1950.

Gangster Salvatore Santoro seen dead in the vestibule of his Hicks St. apartment on January 31st, 1957.

Gangster Salvatore Santoro seen dead in the vestibule of his Hicks St. apartment on January 31st, 1957.

Firefighters put out a fire at the Fulton Fish Market in the South Street Seaport on February 26th, 1961.

Firefighters put out a fire at the Fulton Fish Market in the South Street Seaport on February 26th, 1961.

The photos give us a chance to see how much the city has remained the same in some ways, and changed (hopefully for the better) in others. Thankfully, crime isn’t nearly as prevalent now as it was when the vintage photos mixed in here were taken, but many of the buildings where the crimes, fires and car wrecks took place remain largely the same.

You can see more from Hermann by heading over to his website here. You can also dig through some of the old photos yourself by paying the New York Daily News’ archive a visit. And if you liked these photos, don’t forget to browse through some of the other then-and-now series we’ve featured in the past.

(via The New York Daily News via Gizmodo)


Image credits: Images by Marc Hermann and used with permission


 
 
  • Kyle

    I like the idea, but most of them are not done very well unfortunately. The photoshopping is pretty awful.

  • Richard Horsfield

    Pretty hard to match up old photos like these with modern locations, plus the differences in lens they were taken with, so I reckon he’s done a pretty good job. Not perfect, but definitely good enough…

  • MGM

    Good idea; terrible execution.

  • pgb0517

    Very nicely done. I like the effects.

  • Rabi Abonour

    Yeah, I actually was quite impressed by how well he lined these up.

  • Chris Staggs

    nicely done, but to correct one thing…the “tank destroyer” pictured is the M7 Priest, it wasn’t a tank destroyer…it was a self-propelled artillery. (there is a difference)

  • jkantor267

    It’s “lies” not “lays.” Buy a dictionary.

  • Sean Derrick

    Me too. I think he did a great job! This was not an easy task.

  • Sean Derrick

    Really? Terrible? I think he did a fantastic job given the complexities of the focal length, shutter speed, lighting differences, etc. Not to mention the changing landscapes in some of the photos. Just how would you make it better?

  • somebody

    and you should buy some clothes

  • spikespeak

    It’s “breasts” not “oversized plastic doorknobs plastered to your chest.” Buy a sweater.

  • Jason

    What is the story about the first photo? I see no caption explaining it, yet is the lead-in photo. Ay idea?

  • Sort it out

    Wow. Must be a record amount of time you’ve waited before ripping of an fstoppers article (it was crap there and it’s crap here).

  • Tony L.

    It’s really not hard, just meticulous work. I have a crown graphic that I still use, that would work well. Just have to plan it out, like, print overlays of the old photos for the ground glass. But I can’t knock the idea, just needs the right execution.

  • Pat Alexander NY

    As far as execution, I don’t think his intention was to do seamless Photoshop. This is editorial work, not slick commercial stuff. Combining gritty black and crime scenes from the past with ordinary color street scenes of today, he created unique composites that I think mirrored his intentions.

  • Thomas

    It may not be perfectly done but I don’t think that technical perfection is the most important thing here.

  • Zarif Rafiul Haque

    I love the idea. but photoshopping work could be better.

  • derp

    Then how come your images aren’t on this article?

  • clangnuts

    I’d like to know that. I’m imagining the police are trying to evict the woman (the TO LET sign in the window?)

  • Jackie

    I agree with Kyle. I like the idea a lot, but the execution could have been better. For example the halo fringes around the people could have been cleaned up, etc.

  • Aaro Keipi

    Is it really? Am I the only one who thought the photoshop was fine? I think he accomplished what he was going for pretty well.

  • Aiden

    I’d have to agree. Some of the blends are done pretty well and work quite nicely, but then others just look god awfully sloppy.

  • pgb0517

    I have a feeling the artist knew that there were halos and other rough transitions around the b/w portions. I have a feeling he could have “fixed” those if he had wanted to, or omitted the images from the collection. So I conclude he achieved the affects he wanted. It’s art — and, as someone else pointed out, editorial work. You don’t have to like it, but to ding it for Photoshop issues is not really valid.

  • zeptom

    I also agree, I like some but not all.

    Also sucks that for some weird reason you can’t dislike someone else work without having to prove that you can do better.

  • James Schooling

    Here’s the explanation. Its right below the photo of the newspaper photographers:

    At the top we have a photo taken on March 19, 1942, which shows Edna Egbert out on the ledge of her apartment on 497 Dean St. in Brooklyn, fighting with police.

  • JadyBelle

    Whoa – is there a lot going on here on this forum, or did I just
    notice for the first time, that when offering an opinion- and just an
    opinion, some people are being seriously snarky if they don’t like the
    opinions posted?

    Re: The series of “now-images-nyc-created-blending-vintage-crime-scene-photos”

    If
    one has seen *a lot of examples* of extremely good or astounding
    digital photo manipulations, or even any work in colorization,
    restoration, etc, by a person very versed in Photoshop or other such
    digital art programs, one would realize, that with more time and
    attention to detail, this series could have been incredible, instead of
    just average.

    Actually it comes across as average to amateurish.

    I would suggest to the artist, practice does make perfect. Don’t take
    any negative comments to heart. Just work harder at what you do.

    The
    idea for this photo series is interesting,( mixing then and now
    together), which is why it is disappointing to see the quality of the
    results.

    It looks like each photo is a project the artist
    started and didn’t get to complete or just hastily handed it in for
    submission..

    Sorry, folks, but this could have been rendered so
    much more professionally and realistically- so all I can say regarding
    that is: what a shame. :-(

    The artist can’t take back the art or the idea. They created it, it is out there and now it is being commented on.

    To the smart alecs who don’t like the constructive criticism coming
    from some of us, asking where our work is if we think we can do better?

    What does that have to do with offering an opinion?

    Did you offer an opinion-even if positive?

    So where is your work then? Please- the retorts are so incredibly childish!

    I
    wouldn’t put my work up in public if it looked liked this- I would work
    on it further before submitting. Pretty much my main suggestion about
    this series- it needed more work.

    Also, since when does one have to be a photographer or digital artist to offer an opinion or constructive criticism ?

    Just how much do the people who like the work depicted, know about digital rendering with photos?

    (Yeah-
    just as I thought….a lot don’t know squat. And if you haven’t seen
    great examples of such, sure, this will all seem rather nice to you.
    Even deemed good work by some.)

    Okay, so fair enough, I
    can understand there are those who have nothing else to judge it by,
    so they think it looks lovely and can’t understand the constructive
    critique or some less kinder comments.

    ( For the record, I don’t believe in being cutting or cruel in a review. )

    For
    anyone who viewed this series, ask yourself this: If you go to an art
    museum and don’t like some form of artwork you are viewing and state so,
    that is your opinion and opinions are subjective- correct?

    You don’t need to be an art expert or an artist to offer an opinion.

    It applies here as well- all opinions are welcome ( or so I thought).

    But those who do this kind of work for a living know quality when they see it.

    This is not about hating abstract art and loving Pre-Raphaelite style paintings.

    It is not about art style or type.

    This series really doesn’t get too subjective unless you find the subject matter covered, offensive.

    The arguments here, the opinions offered here, are mainly about the quality of the imaging.

    If you love it- great. If you don’t like it, that is fine, too.

    Were
    we only supposed to comment on this forum if we had favorable, glowing
    reviews regarding this: THEN AND NOW VINTAGE CRIME SCENE PHOTO SERIES?

    If so, what is the point of even exchanging ideas and opinions on this or any other topic?

    For those who like it, maybe you should try your hand at Photoshop or another digital program before you shoot your mouth off.

    Go check out some of the best digital artists around on the internet and view their work.

    Learn how hard it is to really create art on a computer with or without photos.

    Praising
    these images so highly, is actually insulting to those who have worked
    on such programs for years in order to create breathtaking visuals.

    It was a nice try- but the project should have had more time put into it.

    * Animals never cease to amaze me. People never cease to disappoint me*

  • JadyBelle

    Do you know how the issues you spoke of can be compensated for in digital imaging programs?

  • JadyBelle

    It just shows to much contrast- like literally pasted on effect and the coloration is stark and unrealistic. But hey, I appreciate your take on it and yes, it could be the intention but I am use to a smooth blending of composites.

  • JadyBelle

    Point well taken but sometimes if you are not going to do a job well, it makes people think” Why did you bother”?

  • JadyBelle

    I guess our images are not on here, for the same reason yours are not here either?

  • JadyBelle

    I have to admit, that was a big plus to the series, the history behind the images. So, despite having the attitude that more time should have been spent on the artistic side of it, the historical value was there and probably caused many viewers to even look up the events depicted on the internet, for further details. :-)

  • Pat Alexander NY

    Realistic is not better than unrealistic. They’re merely different and again, in this case it’s clear the photographer was not shooting for “realistic.” His work has a rough around the edges look which compliments his subjects. A smooth blending of composites would have erased much of the drama and given the scenes more of a watered down, commercial postcard look.

  • JadyBelle

    I hear exactly what you are saying, and what you mean, but at the other end of the spectrum, you have what ends up being a very artificial look.

    If that is what he is going for, it worked.

    And people will like what they like. Honestly? That is fine.

    I think at this point, no one really knows what the he was striving for, other than to definitely make a comparison between *then and now* and blending them together, however seamlessly or not seamlessly, he chose to do it.

    I feel there are no rules in art ( despite the fact that there are actually some rules in art) and an artist should feel free to do what he/she wants with their work.

    That includes how they create their art or if they want to convey a message or no message, in their imagery.

    ( I think other than portraiture work or a landscape, there is usually some kind of message, even if only the artist knows what it is.)

    As to who ends up liking their art is another story.

    Over the centuries we have had artists from many nations cover a variety of styles and now, with pc imaging, we can see that same kind of variety conveyed in digital form.

    ( I know there are art & photography purists who deem computer art and digital photography- NOT ART- because it was not literally rendered by hand using paint brush,pen or pencil or when taking a photo, it was not done perfectly,straight out of the camera, the first time the shutter was depressed. Post production work in Photoshop and similar programs is deemed blasphemous for many traditionalists.)

    I can definitely pick out the work of certain renowned digital artists, just as many people would be able to pick out a Rembrandt – DaVinci or Jackson Pollock.

    So, I hope if anything positive came out of the posting of this series, it inspired some people to try their hand at creating something with digital imaging software:-)

    Thx for posting your personal take on this photographic series.

  • Pat Alexander NY

    Just one quickie thought before beddy-bye time here. While the photographer’s images can be called unrealistic, I wouldn’t call them artificial. Instead I see them as melodramatic, exaggerated, with maybe a hint of magical realism.

  • http://www.robandrewphoto.com/ Rob Andrew

    Really cool, but I wonder if anyone saw these and subsequently moved out of their building for fear of ghosts!

  • B. B.

    You people are childish. The Photoshopping was irrelevant. It was not important to get it perfect.