Talk about yer "remuddling." The New York Times says the Black, Starr & Frost building is probably the earliest surviving apartment building in Manhattan, although it isn't used as such any more.
Reminds me of a plastic surgery disaster. Poor old building.
The building went up in 1874 and is located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 28th.
I've always had a mild fascination for "then and now" pictures, although I also find them persistently unsatisfying somehow. I guess it's because they don't tell enough of the stories that they imply.
An exception is the great book Second view: The Rephotographic Survey Project by Mark Klett et al. (OoP), probably because of the scrupulousness of the way the modern photographs were done: they're exactly triangulated, not approximate. What's amazing to me about that book is how much the land itself changed in a century or so.
I've never owned the book, though.
Similarly, I'm always fascinated/unsatisfied by baby pictures. It would be very interesting to see more sets of photographs of people at many ages, but it would be best to have one to two dozen pictures rather than just two. That might make a nice idea for a picture book, if it were well done.
UPDATE: Several commenters have mentioned what is probably the most famous "people through time" project, Nick Nixon's yearly portraits across more than three decades of his wife and her three sisters. It is indeed a quietly wonderful project. (I've seen the original prints—some of them, anyway!—back when the project was short of two decades old.) And the most recent book, published by MoMA in 2008, is still available.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by DerekL: "You should check out How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built by Stewart Brand. It's a fascinating book about how the built environment changes over time in response to the demands placed on it and changes in the social/economic environment around it. Second and Third View merely document the changes; Brand explores the how and why of the changes. (There's a fascinating series of photographs of the interior of his wife's business as it changes from a design firm, to short run production, to retail, to mail order.)
"As ugly as the surviving building is, it tells a far more interesting tale than a building frozen in time."
Featured Comment by Bob Blakley: "Oh my God—that's awful! Reminds me of Prince Charles' comment that at least when the Luftwaffe knocked down British buildings it didn't replace them with anything more offensive than rubble...."
Featured Comment by jkiel: "My Masters degree thesis was a rephotography project. My great-grandfather was an early Utah photographer, very prolific, so I constrained myself to using some of his Salt Lake City views. If you look at the site, once you get to the side-by-side image page, my 'third view' is linked below those image pairs. Just FYI."
Featured Comment by John Holland: "Here's a Toronto-based 'then and now,' based on some snapshots a Japanese tourist took when visiting the city in 1977. A Toronto photographer found the 1977 photos on the web, and decided to rephotograph the whole sequence."
Mike replies: Thanks John. I'd actually seen that before, but had forgotten all about it.
Featured Comment by David Stone: "Thought I would point out that there is a Nicholas Nixon exhibit at the MFA in Boston running through May 1, and the Sisters are a big part of the exhibit. Here's a link."