Category Archives: NYC

Finding Building & Property Information

Lately, we've had many questions in the Journalism Library about finding building histories, owner names, code violations, market value, and similar things. Here's a round-up of the most useful tools to find that information! (Photo below is a 1902 panorama of NYC from the Library of Congress.)

Panoramaic photograph of New York City, taken in 1902.

Dept. of Buildings: BIS (Building Information System)
http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/bsqpm01.jsp

Lists actions, complaints, violations, alterations, certificates of occupancy, # buildings on lot, tax block/lot # (which you need for ACRIS, listed below), landmark status, zoning documents, etc. (Under “actions,” “NB” records are permits for new buildings.) When multiple buildings are on one lot, click on the number of buildings to access building-specific records. You can also use the BIS's "Building on my Block" to find properties in a block (or community district) that are new buildings or have had alterations. Good for getting a feel for what’s going on with property development in a given area.

Related: Building Permit Search, 1900 – 1986 (Office of Metropolitan History) http://www.metrohistory.com/searchfront.htm

Property Tax Bill & Information System (NYC Finance: Property) http://nycprop.nyc.gov/nycproperty/nynav/jsp/selectbbl.jsp

Market value history, building classification (what type of building it is), owner & billing address, tax charges, exemptions, abatements & any credits. You can find additional information (like number of stories or units, building dimensions, etc.) under Property Tax Benefit Information.

ACRIS (Automated City Register Information System; NYC Finance: Property) http://a836-acris.nyc.gov/CP/

Find mortgages, deeds, and other property documents. “Det” provides detailed information about the document (including the names and address of involved parties); “img” shows the document. Related NYC Property tools include the FY 2014 Final Assessment Roll for NYC and the Comparable Values for Condos & Coops.

NYC Housing and Vacancy Survey (Census Bureau) http://www.census.gov/housing/nychvs/

Includes information on rent-vs-own status, rent-to-income ratios, estimated value, and structural conditions (such as condition of exterior or interior walls).

Housing Code Violation Data (Dept. of Housing Preservation & Development)

HPD Online (find violations by address): https://webapps.hpdnyc.org/HPDonline/provide_address.aspx

New Residential Construction: http://www.census.gov/construction/nrc/

Reports from the U.S. Census on nation-wide permits for new residential construction.

U.S. Housing Market Conditions (HUD, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development): http://www.huduser.org/portal/ushmc/home.html

Housing market data and analysis, home affordability, and related information. Available at the national, regional, metro, and local levels (some NYC-area data).

Landmark Designation Reports (only recent designations are here): http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/html/forms/reports.shtml

Landmark Designations, 1965 to present. (For older reports, contact the Landmark Commission directly.)

NYC Rent Guidelines Board Reports:
http://www.housingnyc.com/html/research/cresearch.html

Reports on housing supply, income & affordability, changes to rent stabilized housing stock, and more.

American FactFinder (Census Bureau): http://factfinder2.census.gov/

Two particularly relevant tables (both available at the census tract level) are:

  • Selected Economic Characteristics (DP03)
  • Selected Housing Characteristics (DP04)

Additional Information

For more information on NYC buildings, property, and real estate, consult with librarians at Columbia's Avery Art and Architecture Library.

Avery Library Subject Guides on related topics:

Notable New Yorkers from CUL’s Oral History Research Office

Looking for audio recordings and interview transcripts of some influential New Yorkers?  Look no further than the unique digital collection of Notable New Yorkers at the Oral History Research Office of the Columbia University Libraries, collected from 1955-2001.  This special collection includes interviews with influential figures such as Frances Perkins, Kenneth Clark, and Ed Koch. 

Finding Campaign Finance Information

There are a number of independent groups, government boards and commissions who provide information and data on campaign finance and individual political contributions.  The following are just a few of these fantastic resources from the Campaign Finance Research Guide:

Find these and other resources using the Campaign Finance Research Guide.  Have additional questions?  Ask us!  journalism@libraries.cul.columbia.edu.

NYC Community District Profiles – First Stop for Beat Reporting

New York City's 59 community districts within its 5 boroughs show the incredible diversity of our city.  Each district profile contains summary data on population characteristics and land area and use.  Using 2010 Census information, these profiles are a great way to know your communities (age, ethnicity, household, income support, population changes), and each community board writes a needs statement at the beginning of the profile, talking about the particular needs and issues – traffic congestion and parking, affordable housing, schools, parks and recreation facilities, economic and retail development, and more.  This statement provides a context for development and budget priorities.

There is one bound volume per borough available in the reference section of the Journalism Library, call number HT168.N3

These profiles are also available online and for download in PDF format:

Compare to the Citywide Profile, and find much more at the Department of City Planning website.  Go on, take a bite out of the big apple!

NYC Green Book Online

The New York City's Green Book, a staple for directory information on city agencies, offices, boards, and commissions, is now "greener" than before!   Beginning this year, the publication is available online – NYC Green Book Online – with searchable, up-to-date city directory information. 

Need a historical directory?  Columbia Libraries has a collection of previous editions of NYC Green Books in print.

NYC Election Research

Looking for research on NYC elections and campaign finance information?  Try these sites!

New York City Board of Elections website provides:

New York City Campaign Finance Board website provides:

  • CFB Searchable Database that allows you to search by election cycle, candidate, contributor name, amount of contribution, date of contribution, contributor employer
  • campaign finance summaries for citywide elections
  • press tools, including calendar of scheduled board meetings, campaign finance law, enforcement information

NYC’s Rat Information Portal

RIP mapLooking for NYC Department of Health findings on inspections for rats?  The Rat Information Portal, commonly known as RIP, has information searchable by property address, tax block and lot, or by selecting an area or property from a map.  Information about inspections, violations, compliance, exterminations, and cleanups are available as far back as January 1, 2006. 

For more information, email:  RatPortal@health.nyc.gov.