After a flood in 2015 that put a great deal of their archive at risk, The New York Times decided to digitize over a century’s worth of photographs which were housed in an underground room called “The Morgue”. They worked with Google Cloud in order to facilitate the process of converting the photos into high resolution images. This new system makes it easier for writers to access the photos and provide an instant opportunity to put current events into perspective. Additionally, they hope the AI component will geographically organize millions of old photos, both published and unpublished, so that more can be understood about the past.
For over 100 years, The Times has archived approximately five to seven million of its old photos in hundreds of file cabinets three stories below street level near their Times Square offices in a location called the “morgue.” Many of the photos have been stored in folders and not seen in years. Although a card catalog provides an overview of the archive’s contents, there are many details in the photos that are not captured in an indexed form…. To preserve this priceless history, and to give The Times the ability enhance its reporting with even more visual storytelling and historical context, The Times is digitizing its archive, using Cloud Storage to store high-resolution scans of all of the images in the morgue.