Selfie: “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” -Oxford English Dictionary
In 2013 the Oxford English Dictionary officially recognized the word “selfie”, but as early as 1913 Inwood photographer William Davis Hassler was perfecting the technique.
Hassler, a skilled photographer best known for his panoramic views of New York City, lived and worked out of 150 Vermilyea, #44.
From this small studio, really just a nook carved from his living quarters, the prolific shutterbug prepared for photographic forays around the city with his employer, real estate titan Joseph P. Day.
During a period spanning 1910 through his death in 1921 Hassler captured life across the five boroughs.
From the dizzying heights of bridges and skyscrapers, saddled with heavy photographic equipment, the fearless Hassler documented a New York that might have been forgotten, if not for his thousands of surviving slides.
Using a Kodak No. 8 Cirkut Outfit camera, Hassler was able to take huge panoramic photographs. Attached to a swivel, the No. 8 could shoot four-foot long images showing more than 180 degrees.
The New York Historical Society today maintains more than 3,000 of Hassler’s images.
Let’s take a look at some photographs taken in Inwood—the place the Hassler called home.