virtual 3-D from nypl

Before joining the Design*Sponge team full-time, I spent my days at the New York Public Library. It remains one of my favorite places in the city, and my former colleagues at NYPL Labs have been doing some amazing things. Their new project, the Stereogranimator, launched just last week. If you’ve ever spent time looking through historic photographs, you might have noticed that many (often those dating pre-1900) come in seemingly identical pairs. These pairs, called stereographs, were meant to be viewed together using a proto-ViewMaster device that would give the dual images realistic depth. These stereographs allowed the viewer to immerse herself in a 3-D world — to virtually travel as far as Egypt, see the ruins of the Great San Francisco Earthquake or marvel at Niagara Falls. The New York Public Library has a massive collection of these stereographs, and with the Stereogranimator, you can transform these static images into an approximation of the 3-D stereograph viewing experience. Warning: It is extremely addictive. (And note: you can do a search for cats.) — Amy Azzarito

GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at
Image above: Made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator

GIF made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at
Image above: Made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator


THANK YOU for sharing this news! My grandmother has collected stereographs for decades and passed on that love to the next generations. I shared the site with my relatives, and can’t wait for someone to show grandma at her birthday celebration tomorrow. Very timely!


Awesome! I love stereo photography. Did you know that you can also view stereo photos by crossing your eyes? You cross your eyes and focus on the overlap the two images make and this third image in the middle of the two originals becomes 3D.
It takes practice but once you manage to focus it really is the best way to view them, it truly seems three dimensional!


Next time you’re in Portland, visit the 3D Center of Art and Photography – It’s small but has a nice little collection of 3D items and details the history of 3D images. The gift shop has some cute souvies, too.


I first discovered these from a vendor at Eastern Market in DC…he has an enormous collection very reasonably priced and I could’ve spent all day there!