Repository Spotlight: The Durst Organization Archives

Detail illustration from the 200 East 42nd Street marketing brochure, 1958. Illustration features the front entrance of the building, located on 42nd Street and Third Avenue. Durst Archives.

By Ryan Donaldson, Senior Manager of Heritage and Information Services

Founded in 1915, The Durst Organization (“Durst”) is a family-run business dedicated to the principles of innovation, integrity, community, and sustainability. Durst develops, builds, owns, and manages premier office towers and residential buildings that set new standards in environmental responsibility and user efficiency. Durst’s enduring relationships with tenants and partners are critical to the company’s success.

Company founder Joseph Durst's financial ledger, ca. 1910-1920. Durst Archives. 

The mission of the Durst Heritage and Information Services Department (DHIS) is to collect, preserve, and make accessible materials documenting the past and present of the company and affiliates. To serve these business needs, DHIS manages the Durst Archives. DHIS assists Durst employees with accessing materials from the archives and fulfilling research requests. In addition, DHIS collaborates with Durst’s IT, Marketing, Leasing, Legal, and Public Affairs Departments to support cross-departmental initiatives and to increase employee engagement with the Durst Archives. 

201 East 42nd Street illustration by Rowe Langston, ca. 1964. Durst Archives.

The Durst Archives vividly demonstrates change over time in New York’s built environment; provides comprehensive site histories for past and present Durst properties; and documents current development sites. DHIS leverages resources and historical assets the company has cultivated over time for reuse. The Durst Archives encompass historical documents, photographs, artifacts, brochures, building models, awards and other materials governed by the collections policy.

The Durst Historical Database (DHD) is a primary tool to provide company access to the Durst Archives. DHD is an open-source content management system powered by Collective Access. There are approximately 27,000 collection and object records. A front-end interface with selected records is available to Durst employees via the company’s Intranet.

Installation view of the "The Durst Organization, 1915-2015: Celebrating 100 Years" exhibition at 4 Times Square, June 2015. The exhibition project drew heavily from the Durst Archives, along with images from other cultural institutions. Durst Archives.

2015, The Durst Organization commemorated a key heritage milestone with the company’s Centennial, which culminated in an exhibition in the lobby of 4 Times Square.  The exhibition was open to the public from June to November, and a series of curated tours were organized, including a tour during New York Archives Week. The exhibition project drew heavily from the Durst Archives, along with images from the NYC Municipal Archives, Museum of the City of New York, Shubert Archive, and the Seymour B. Durst Old York Library Collection at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University. Here is a link to the companion Durst Centennial exhibition book.  

Guests enjoy the closing reception for "The Durst Organization, 1915-2015: Celebrating 100 Years" exhibition at 4 Times Square, November 2015. Michael Priest Photography.

All images courtesy The Durst Organization Archives.

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