For the past two years, photographer Jordan Liles has been researching the life and work of George Bradford Brainerd, a lesser-known 19th-century photographer who shot 2,500 photos of New York before he died in 1887 at the age of 42.
Starting in 2013, Liles has also been visiting the locations of Brainerd’s photos — some of the oldest surviving images of New York — recreating the shots to show how New York has changed over the past 140 years.
Liles has so far recreated 28 Brainerd photos that were made between 1872 and 1887.
Liles says his goal with this project is to help spread the word about Brainerd’s “mostly forgotten accomplishments.” He has documented his efforts in a 1.5-minute trailer, a 6.5-minute short film, and and a 31-minute behind-the-scenes video:
Brainerd’s photographic legacy is largely held by the Brooklyn Museum, which owns about 1,900 of his glass plate negatives.
Image credits: Modern photographs by Jordan Liles and used with permission