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Drawing "All the Buildings in New York"

Think of James Gulliver Hancock’s ongoing project “All the Buildings in New York” as the ink and paper Google Street View. An illustrator and world traveler, Hancock drew his way from Australia to France, England and the US before finally settling down in NY. In his notebooks he documented each city’s prevailing motifs, like rain in London and rooftops in Paris.

Hancock began to notice that each location seemed to him like a set piece of itself, the real version of the places he’s seen previously only in movies, and no city lived up to its image like New York City. With scenes in his mind from films by Woody Allen and Alfred Hitchcock as well as classics like BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S and WEST SIDE STORY, Hancock began to meticulously draw not only his immediate surroundings by ever street in the city. You can check out his progress on his blog.

But the idea isn’t quite as novel as you might think. In 1899, the Mail & Express newspaper company published a painstakingly rendered street view of Broadway in the book “A Pictorial Description of Broadway,” which now resides at the New York Public Library. “The result, as you can see here, is a 19th-century version of Google’s Street View, allowing us to flip through the images block by block, passing parks, churches, novelty stores, furriers, glaziers, and other businesses of the city’s past.”

Broadway between Wall and Liberty Street, now and then

Broadway between 40th and 43rd Street, now and then