What is all this?

Awhile back, I was trying to find out the history of a building that my great-great-grandfather had lived in -- an old five-story tenement on Eldridge Street in Manhattan. With some help from Christopher Gray's guide to researching New York City buildings, I discovered that the building had been erected in 1853, on the site of an old house. It was demolished in the 1940s; its lot later held a garage, then a housing project.

My mystery was solved, but the project had piqued my interest anyway. I decided to try a more mammoth task, compiling a complete record of the life cycle of a single city block. That's what I've presented here. Beginning in the 1780s with James Delancey's farm, and ending with the present public housing structures, erected in 1985, this is a record of eight generations of buildings on two-thirds of an acre. (There is a brief gap from about 1802 to 1808, during which I've made educated guesses as to the state of construction.)

Clicking on any building here will give you more details about its history. The tenement that sparked this interest, #218, is a good place to start. My great-great-grandfather lived there in 1860. Keep an eye on it in 1922. Enjoy!

— Zach van Schouwen