Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the opening of the new Department of Records & Information Services – Municipal Archives facility at Industry City, Brooklyn.
“This state-of-the-art storage and research facility will ensure the preservation of the City’s heritage for generations to come,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The $27 million facility is the city’s most significant investment in its Archives since the establishment of the Department of Records & Information Services in 1977.”
The Municipal Archives is one of the largest repositories of government records in North America. The world-class collections span four centuries and include historical records of all three branches of municipal government—executive, legislative, and judicial.
There are more than 90,000 linear feet of storage space in the new facility—the equivalent of about 21 football fields in length. It includes cold storage vaults for photographic negatives, sound, film and video recordings, and special shelving for office records, maps, architectural plans, and ledgers of all sizes. The facility contains space for a digital lab, collections preservation processing, conservation and triage work, records transfers and appraisals.
The Municipal Archives’ headquarters at 31 Chambers Street in Manhattan will continue to welcome patrons and serve as a venue for exhibitions and public programs, but the new facility will also provide space for patrons to conduct research using the materials stored in the Brooklyn.
“We are grateful to Mayor de Blasio and his administration for making our new facility a reality. Planning the facility and moving the materials was a multi-year project. We accomplished extraordinary initiatives that improved the physical and intellectual control of the collections. This work included re-boxing more 60,000 cubic ft. of records and barcoding 300,000 unique items. We look forward to welcoming researchers to the new facility,” said Pauline Toole, Commissioner, Department of Records & Information Services.
“The Municipal Archives offer a wealth of knowledge about our city and is a tremendous resource for researchers and all New Yorkers alike,” said Lisette Camilo, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services. “DCAS was proud to help the Department of Records and Information Services make this new facility a reality so that our history is accessible for generations to come.”
“Providing secure, environmentally controlled storage space is a fundamental requirement for the preservation of archival records”, said New York State Archivist Thomas J. Ruller. “We are gratified to know that City government has taken this important step to ensure that its archives are in a good home, so they can continue to be available for research and use today and for the countless generations of future New Yorkers.”
“I am excited that the Department of Records will now have a state-of-the-art research, storage, and exhibition space as well as an online collection guide system,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Expanding the Department of Records’ space and services is important to our city’s history and makes our city’s rich archival and historical resources more transparent and easily accessible.”
“The opening of the City’s state of the art Archival and Storage Facility is yet another endorsement of Industry City’s rapidly growing commercial-industrial tenant base,” said Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball. “From content creation to e-commerce, manufacturing to design, Industry City is now home to over 570 businesses with 8500 workers. We are thrilled that DCAS chose to invest in our modernized infrastructure.”
“The Municipal Archives are fundamental to the landscape of New York City research. This new facility reflects the city’s dedication not only to preserving its archives, but making them as accessible as possible, and its opening to the public will be applauded by archivists, historians, and all New Yorkers who care for and about the documentary history of our city,” said Nicholas Martin, President, Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York.
“The Municipal Archives is also pleased to announce the launch of ArchivesSpace, a web-based tool that enables researchers to explore record types, dates, people, places, and subjects. “The Archives has reimagined ways in which we provide access to the City’s historical records. The site enables researchers to understand the constant evolution of City government agencies, and reflects the Archives’ role in providing intellectual access points to a dynamic, ever-growing collection,” said Sylvia Kollar, Municipal Archives Director.
“The Archives are coming back in a big way! I am beyond excited by the opening of this state-of-the-art research and storage facility and by the launch of our innovative online collection guide. This investment will make sure that our history will be preserved and shared with generations to come,” said Marco A. Carrión, Executive Director of El Puente.
Photo credit: Harlem history arts.