Percy Loomis Sperr produced more than 40,000 photos of the five boroughs from the 1920s through 1940s, hired by the New York Public Library to chronicle the changing architectural landscape of the city. 

"Even though they were photos that were not meant to be artistic in any way, they give us a glimpse of what the area looked like almost 100 years ago,” said Jason Antos, board president of the Queens Historical Society. 

What You Need To Know

  • "Capturing Queens" is a new exhibit at the Queens Historical Society

  • It features photos by famed photographers Percy Loomis Sperr and Frederick J. Weber

  • The Queens Historical Society is located at the Kingsland Homestead, an 18th Century house in Flushing
  • It's the first exhibit open to the public at the society since before the pandemic

Sperr’s work is part of a new photo exhibition at the Queens Historical Society's headquarters at the Kingsland Homestead in Flushing, a historic house from the 18th Century. It shows a Queens that was mainly rural until the 1920s, when subways and the Long Island Rail Road brought more development and people. Many of the photos are from the Antos’ own collection.

The exhibition, called “Capturing Queens,” also features the work of photographer Frederick Weber, who chronicled the borough during the same time period. 

"Sperr's are very candid and they are more of a landscape of Queens that we know we get a chance to see what it used to look like in the mid-twentieth century, where Weber's are more staged and we get to have a glimpse at who lived in Queens,” said Daniela Addamo, curator at the Historical Society. 

"These photographs are one of the few ways that we have of remembering the smaller details about Queens that would have otherwise been lost,” said Jeran Halfpap, the society’s education and outreach coordinator. 

This is the first exhibit open to the public at the Queens Historical Society since before the pandemic. Visitors are being welcomed with a timed ticket entry system. The exhibit goes along with the mission of the society to chronicle the history of the borough.

"Queens has definitely become a very unique spot, and of course it is the world's borough so that name means a lot and it continues to be so hopefully for a very long time,” said Executive Director Branka Duknic. 

You can see the "Capturing Queens" exhibit through February 2022. 

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