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Every second, 4,000 photos are shared...on Facebook alone.

But the desire to capture and then share our lives on film isn’t a 21st-century phenomenon.

And that’s what the New York Public Library reveals in its new exhibit Public Eye: 175 Years of Sharing Photography.

Currently on display at the main branch (the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street), the exhibit’s 500 photographs from the library’s archives outline the history of photography--from a purely social perspective.

You’ll see how portrait postures evolve (think: tintypes, photo booths, selfies). You’ll realize how Kodak once was what Instagram now is (a democratizer for the medium). You’ll discover how rapidly our culture evolved after we were able to document and expose the plight of the poor, sick and underserved (read: the advent of photojournalism in the early 20th century).

But more than just a bunch of dusty old images, the exhibit obviously also incorporates digital trends--including a massive touch-screen installation where you can voyeuristically poke around geo-tagged images taken right here in NYC.

Which begs the question: What’s next?

New York Public Library, Fifth Ave. and 42nd St.; 917-275-6975 or

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