He had been hired by the New York Public Library to photograph what buildings were coming down, and he roamed city streets from 1924 to 1945 as its enigmatic recorder. In his imagination, he saw himself as a writer. "I am not much of a camera fan. My own interest is rather in the story than in the picture."
Nos. 701-719 First Avenue, photographed by Sperr in 1926. Future site of No. 5.
A more straight-on view. Amid the rubble, one building remains, the obstinate 8 Prospect Place; it will remain standing until after World War II, when the French Company finally buys it. The backstory here.
A shot of The Woodstock, towering above it all.
And finally, the completed No. 5. Photo made by Sperr in 1936.