Collection: Sperr, Percy Loomis, 1890-1964

Percy Loomis Sperr (1890–1964) was an American photographer renowned for his extensive documentation of New York City throughout the first half of the 20th century. Born on September 30, 1890, in Brooklyn, New York, Sperr developed a deep passion for photography at a young age. His interest in capturing the urban landscape and its dynamic transformations led him to become one of the most prolific chroniclers of New York City's architectural evolution.

Sperr's career as a photographer began in the 1920s, a period marked by significant changes in the city's skyline and infrastructure. Armed with his camera, he set out to document the construction of iconic landmarks such as the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, as well as the bustling streets and neighborhoods of New York. His work captured the essence of the city during a time of rapid growth and modernization.

One of Sperr's notable contributions was his extensive documentation of the elevated train lines that crisscrossed the boroughs of New York. His photographs provide a unique perspective on the city's transportation system and the neighborhoods it served, offering a glimpse into the daily lives of its diverse residents.

Percy Loomis Sperr's work was not limited to photography alone; he also contributed articles and photographs to various publications, further establishing himself as a chronicler of urban life. His images were featured in newspapers, magazines, and books, gaining recognition for their historical and cultural significance.

Despite facing personal and financial challenges throughout his life, Sperr remained dedicated to his craft. His photographs serve as a valuable visual record of a bygone era in New York City, offering viewers a nostalgic journey through its streets and landmarks.

Percy Loomis Sperr passed away on October 29, 1964, leaving behind a rich legacy of over 40,000 photographs that continue to be studied and appreciated by historians, researchers, and enthusiasts alike. His work remains an enduring testament to the ever-changing landscape of New York City and the artistry of documenting its vibrant history.