This is a story about an enormous collection of pictures. A man started the collection and marketed it as a service to graphic artists and others who needed visual inspiration. When the man died, one of his clients bought the collection. That man’s wife continued the business.

The real subject of the story is the collection, rather than the people involved with it. What will happen to it? Will it survive? Obstacles to its survival include not just the death of its creator, the aging of its next benefactors, but the Internet and its wealth of images.

We like the ways that Barry gets us interested in the pictures themselves, their documentation of the world, their anachronism and the reasons for their continued usefulness. By getting at this intersection of old and new, Barry lends the piece some significance and makes it more than cute.

Read “About New York; A Thousand Words? This Stash Is Worth a Trillion,” by Dan Barry

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