It's Marc A. Hermann's job as a photographer for The New York Daily News to cover breaking stories in the world's biggest city.
"I grew up as a history buff, and since I started shooting for newspapers when I was 15, I always tried to envision what the city looked like to my predecessors in the 1930s and '40s," he told Business Insider in an email.
After Hermann started working as a photo assignment editor at The Daily News, he would browse the paper's immense photo archive in his downtime, searching for subjects like "police," "fire," and "murder."
What he uncovered were incredible 4x5 negatives, some of which hadn't been published since they were first shot for the newspaper in the early 20th century.
Inspired by the work of Sergey Larenkov and Joeri Teeuwisse, who blend historic pictures of war-torn Europe with modern-day views, Hermann began visiting different New York locations in the old photos to see if he could line up the perfect shot.
"I'd have to literally occupy the exact airspace as the original shooter, tilting a little to one side, or having to squat down, or having to press up against a wall," he told us. "This project allowed me to literally follow in their footsteps."
The result is his photo series "New York: Then & Now," which we first read about over at The New York Daily News.
The combined scenes of modern shots with vintage crime scenes is a reminder to pause every once in awhile and imagine what our world was like decades ago.Frankie Yale, aka the "Al Capone of Brooklyn" lost control of his Lincoln coupe and smashed into a stoop house on 44th Street On July 1, 1928. The house — and tree — still stand.
The Church of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary caught on fire on January 11, 1951. The 90-year-old landmark was practically destroyed, but was rebuilt and can be found today at Hicks and Summit Streets in Carroll Gardens.
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A recently-released inmate of the Brooklyn House of Detention stole a car with two friends to "go pick up some forgotten clothing" in July of 1957. They ended up crashing the car on a light pole at Pacific Street and Classon Avenue in Brooklyn instead.
A leaking gas pipe caused a massive explosion on January 31, 1961 at this Downtown Brooklyn office building. It shattered storefronts and injured 28 people, but the building remains completely intact.
On March 19, 1942, Edga Egbert climbed out onto her ledge after she became distressed at not having heard from her son in the service. The cops distracted her long enough so she could be pushed into a safety net.
Here, firefighters tried to contain a blaze on Grand Street and Kent Avenue in Williamsburg in February of 1946. The building still stands today, but now is only two stories high.
An M-7 tank destroyer rolls up Park Row in front of City Hall in Downtown Manhattan on July 22, 1943. It was on its way to be put on display in Fifth Avenue library.
Pablo Melendez and Arcadia Santos met at a dance on March 15, 1959. Melendez offered to drive her home to Brooklyn, but lost control of the car and plunged into the East River. He managed to swim to safety, but sadly the 20-year-old Santos did not.
December 17, 1960 was the date of one of the worst aviation disasters in U.S. history — 134 people were killed after a United Airlines jet collided with a smaller airplane over Staten Island, killing everyone aboard both planes and crashing into the intersection of Sterling Place and 7th Avenue in Park Slope. Astoundingly, some of the surrounding buildings still stand.
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A car crash on April 4, 1959 resulted in the death of a three-year-old who was riding her tricycle across from her Brooklyn home on Porter Avenue. To this day you can still see the scars of the impact in the brick building.
This February 1961 fire at the Fulton Fish Market was on the west side of South Street. These buildings still stand today (minus a few floors here and there, according to Hermann).
Policemen guard Detective Michael Dwyer, who committed suicide near the entrance of Prospect Park. Many people were out and about on Sunday July 30, 1950 and witnessed his suicide.
"Black Hawk" gangster Salvator "Sammy" Santoro — once a powerful force on the Brooklyn waterfront — was shot four times in the head at his address at 475 1/2 Hicks St in January 1957. The murder weapon was left at the scene.
Josephine Dexidor holds James Linares who had just been shot by her jealous boyfriend on the stairs of this Bronx apartment building on Southern Boulevard.
Firemen work to put out a massive fire at the Elkins Paper & Twin Co. building on Wooster Street in 1958. It claimed the lives of two firefighters and four members of the NY Fire patrol. The building was demolished shortly after the victims' bodies were recovered.
More back-in-the-day scenes: