NYCHS presents virtual tour of 1948 Rikers Island
Aerial photo has been 'mapped" into 14 sections. Click a section to access its linked close-up view.

Aerial photo has been 'mapped" into 14 sections. Click a section to access its linked close-up view.

A 1990s scan of a 1948 Army aerial photo of Rikers Island, looking south, produced a 2.1 Mb 200-Dots Per Inch (dpi) grayscale digital TIF image file, eventually saved to a floppy disk. In mid-summer 2006 the NYCHS webmaster came across the image again in archiving files from old floppies to CDs.

Its rediscovery presented opportunity for creating this virtual "step-back-in-time" tour. It shows the way the island looked some six decades ago when the penitentiary, hospital and dorms were the only major inmate facilities and access was provided only by ferry or other boats.

The 200 dpi and 2.1 Mb size of the original TIF image format file were sufficiently large to enable "zooming in" on 14 somewhat overlapping detail sections and turning each such section into a "close-up" JPG image of 72 dpi.

The above 72 dpi JPG version of the original scanned image has been "mapped" so that clicking a section of it will bring up the corresponding "close-up" image of that section.

The viewer can go back and forth between the full aerial image and the close-up sections or can navigate through the close-up images using the "next" and "previous" tags without returning to the full aerial image.

The webmaster's captions beneath the close-ups relect his limited understanding of the 1948 scenes based on his own knowledge of the island in the 1990s and currently as well as his study of island's development as a correctional complex.

But veteran current and former NYC DOC staffers and others who can correct, refine, enhance and increase the information in the close-up image captions are invited to do so. Include the close-up's virtual tour image number in your e-mail to the

The virtual tour provides an interesting background perspective to a number of presentations on the NYCHS web site, including but not limited to:

-- To NYCHS home page --
-- To NYC DOC History Menu --