Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library Launches Historic New York Resource
NEW YORK, February 4, 2011 –

The Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia University has launched a new online resource, The Real Estate Record, fully digitized volumes of The Real Estate Record and Builders Guide. The project website provides sales, mortgage, conveyance, and other data about buildings in Manhattan (including the Bronx between 1874 and c. 1913) and Brooklyn, as well as illustrated articles on buildings and neighborhood development. This project is part of the Avery Library’s initiative to digitize its unique holdings and make them available online, to benefit students, scholars and other interested people who are unable to visit its collections in person.


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The Real Estate Record and Builders Guide, a weekly magazine detailing building activity in New York City and its environs began publication in the late 1860s. The project website includes all available public domain content, from Volume 1 (published in 1868) to Volume 110 (published in 1922), a total of over 112,500 scanned pages. The Real Estate Record was digitized from microfilm and original printed volumes in the Avery Architectural & Fine Art Library, as well as from supplemental volumes made available by the New York Historical Society.

“This is an incredibly exciting development for anyone interested in the architecture of New York City,” said Andrew Dolkart, James Marston Fitch Associate Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation and Planning. “The Real Estate Record is a treasure trove of information about the architecture and real estate history of New York, but as a multi-volume printed set has always been a cumbersome and frustrating resource, with endless lists in minute print, that will now be easily accessible in this online format.”

Users may browse by volume or search by keyword. Advanced search features allow for proximity searching for names or addresses within standard subsections such as: alterations, conveyances, foreclosures, judgments, leases, mortgages, new buildings, and sales.

The website is a joint project of the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, the Libraries' Preservation and Digital Conversion Division, the Libraries' Digital Program Division. Digitization was implemented by Columbia University Libraries in collaboration with Backstage Library Works and the Internet Archive (IA). Those volumes digitized by Internet Archive are also available through its interface.

The Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library is one of the most comprehensive architecture and the fine arts library collections in the world. Avery collects a full range of primary and secondary sources for the advanced study of architecture, historic preservation, art history, decorative arts, city planning, real estate, and archaeology. The Library contains more than 550,000 volumes including more than 40,000 rare books. Avery’s Drawings and Archives collection includes 1.5 million architectural drawings and records. The Avery Library is home to the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, the only comprehensive American guide to the current literature of architecture and design.  For more information, please visit: /content/libraryweb/indiv/avery.html.

The New-York Historical Society, founded in 1804, houses one of the oldest and most distinguished independent research libraries in the United States. Among its collections are far-ranging materials relating to the founding and early history of New York City and the nation.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries is the gateway to its services and resources: library.columbia.edu.  

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