Download thousands of free images from the New York Public Library

New public domain release makes high-resolution photos, illustrations and more available for free.

As a designer, you can never have too many assets. From the best free fonts to free WordPress themes and website templates, you never know when they'll come in handy.

Recently, the New York Public Library digitised and made over 180,000 photos, illustrations, maps and more available, which you can download for free in the highest resolution possible.

Each of the images is either no longer in copyright or otherwise in the public domain. According to the New York Public Library, no permission is required and there are no restrictions on use.

Blossom Restaurant, Manhattan by Berenice Abbott/The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library

They include Depression-era images from photographs like Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange, Lewis Hines' photographic documentation of Ellis Island immigrants, letters written by Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and political figures, and more.

The future of digitisation

Interestingly, the institution is also providing developer access to the metadata of its collections, and making updates to its API to encourage playful games and visualisations. Why not make a GIF from the vast collection of stereoscopic images?

One image from a series of Egyptian gods and goddesses depicted by a French artist in the early 1800s

NYPL's in-house technology department has also released a number of interactive "public domain releases". One such remix is Navigating the Green Book, which assembles road-trip itineraries from addresses listed in mid-20th-century travel guides for African Americans.

Enter in your start and end points, reports CityLab, and the tool will spit out restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and sights that didn't discriminate against blacks in an age of sundown towns and segregation.

The free images made avaliable by the New York Public Library are fascinating. But be warned: once you start browsing, you'll lose the rest of your day.

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Julia Sagar is a commissioning editor and writer for Creative Bloq, Computer Arts, net, 3D World and IFX magazines. Tweet her @JuliaSagar