Have you ever wondered what New York City looked like in the 1600s? Well, Greenpoint-based author Sasha Vosk certainly did, and he set out to create a book about it. 

Photo courtesy of Sasha Vosk

400 Years of New York History: A Pictorial Guide is a look at New York City when it was still the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. Of course, the images Vosk created to showcase this history are a result of photorealism, but they are incredibly captivating and well-imagined.

The Process

With extensive research, digging into archives throughout the city and in Amsterdam, Vosk and his team of professionals were able to begin imagining what the city was like before it was a city at all. 

With help from experts from Dutch New York, and with the assistance of CGA (computer generated art) practitioners, Vosk began crafting his book using multiple art forms. “Today’s photorealism uses a combination of photography, 3-D modeling and Photoshop painting to create magical depictions that draw readers in.”

Photo courtesy of Sasha Vosk

The book has been five years in the making, but, finally, it’s available in paperback, eBook, and USB flash drive format. As a resident of Greenpoint for the past 27 years, Vosk was thrilled to do a book signing at WORD bookstore, and I’m excited to share his story with the rest of the neighborhood!


The Author

Sasha Vosk moved to New York City from Russia in 1981 to gain professional freedom as an artist and to explore his passions in their multitudes. Vosk trained in theater and studied illustration and architecture in Moscow, and after arriving to the States, he began practicing his fine art skill of illustration while learning English. His path thereafter has been filled with amazing twists and turns, all of which have set him up for this particular moment. 

Those twists and turns include a career in comedy and theater, a career in the circus, a career in illustration and muralism, and a career in production. With this background, putting together a well-researched book of historical photorealism was made possible.

Plus, Vosk has a particular passion for history in this capacity which has been a driving force for the book’s creation. When recalling the reasons why he felt compelled to author this book, Vosk outlined the following:

  1. He loves history. He acknowledges that the early history of NYC is rarely celebrated here and he believes that loving something or someone includes a desire to find out where they came from and who gave them life.
  2. He loves historical architecture. Vosk inherited a love for historical architecture from his parents and comes from a city where historical architecture is cherished and preserved. While NYC has been unable to preserve historical architecture affordably, Vosk enjoys reimagining what the city looked like throughout the centuries. 
  3. He noticed a lack of physical and pictorial history and he wanted to fill those gaps.

Vosk credits much of the creation of his book to his experience as a producer. While producing the Moscow Circus, and the award winning film, “Billy Crystal, a Midnight Train to Moscow,” Vosk grew very skilled at the juggling act that is producing live entertainment. He was able to transition his production knowledge into the production of a pictorial book, which included auditioning talent, running photoshoots, choosing costumes and props, and making sure all departments were staying on track. 

The Mission

Perhaps the most notable part about this entire undertaking is the shocking reality of how limited the city’s historical visual resources are. One would think that in a city full of artists that someone would have created more updated, high definition art that represents the city’s history, but Vosk found a significant gap in that space. 

Vosk hopes to introduce his book into the classroom so that children can have an updated visual aid when learning about the city’s history. While workshopping the book at his own childrens’ school, Vosk recalls getting shivers down his spine while witnessing the kids experience the history in real time, in a digestible way that made them excited about learning. 

Photo courtesy of Sasha Vosk

Vosk believes that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” especially when it comes to children. For parents, this book can be a great resource for introducing young children to history, and wonderful supplemental material for older children who are curious about the world they are growing up in. 

Likewise, Vosk hopes to introduce this book into the tourism industry. Imagine riding on a double decker red bus through Time Square while flipping through images of what the area looked like centuries ago. Giving verbal context to the city’s history is important to tourists, but having a visual aid would really elevate the experience.

What To Expect Next

This is only book number one in an anticipated series. While 400 Years of New York History: A Pictorial Guide is clearly a broad stroke effort to cover an extensive time span, Vosk intends on writing more. He plans on covering 10-20 years within each century, summarizing a few main events from the 1700s, 1800s, and so on. You can sign up on his website to receive a bonus gift and email notifications regarding the status of his works. Plus, with every purchase of the physical book comes a QR code that you can scan to view the book digitally.

  • Click here to view sample pages at your leisure.
  • Click here to find the eBook.
  • Click here to follow the Facebook page.
  • Click here to check out the promo video.

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