The Difference of a Decade: New York City's Changing Storefronts

Photographers James and Karla Murray’s series “STORE FRONT: The Disappearing Face of New York” features photographs taken by the couple of New York storefronts ten years apart. The series is composed of “before” and “after” photographs, showing the dramatic change in single storefronts over the course of a decade.


The couple, who divide their time between New York and Miami, first began documenting the storefronts of New York ten years ago in an effort to preserve the unique establishments of the city. Returning ten years later, the artists were dismayed to find that many of the small businesses they’d photographed had disappeared. Some remained, but most had been replaced by chains, fallen into disrepair or even been demolished.





In order to preserve the memory of the establishments that had added character to neighborhoods and represented the diversity of the city, the couple published their side-by-side series as a book.






James and Karla Murray state, of their series, “we hope this glimpse will bring awareness to the unique character these small mom-and-pop businesses add to the streets and neighborhoods of New York City and the sense of community they provide. These storefronts have the city’s history etched into their façades.”









James and Karla Murray are photographers and authors whose work has been exhibited in New York and Munich. Their work has is included in the permanent collections of major institutions like the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the New York Public Library,  and the Brooklyn Historical Society. Their work has been featured in such publications as the New York Times and Saveur.

You can find more of their work on their website.

via My Modern Met

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Jerrit Pruyn's picture

This is happening way to often in my neighborhood of Astoria, it is sad to see the mom and pop stores replaced with a crappy cell phone store.

Mike Kelley's picture

Character replaced with commercialization.

David Geffin's picture

I spoke with James and Karla last year at the launch of their new book, New York Nights, which is also wonderful. They said that something like 2/3rds or 3/4 of the stores in this book from when they started the project to now are already gone.

Gregory L'Esperance's picture

The Land of Substandardway & Schmuckbucks; no thanks.

tttulio's picture

Subway shops everywhere. Don't blame the shops, blame the shoppers.

Stacy Ray's picture

Thanks for CBGB's entrance! I agree commercialization leads to the disappearance of character and individuality. I remember reading how Hilly Kristal painted a signboard by himself. Though according to, just another type of creativity is invading the market.

richard david's picture

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