© New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
Before iPads and air-conditioning, New Yorkers of all ages sought entertainment outside. And since backyards and open space in the city are practically non-existent, games took place outside of apartment buildings, spilling out onto the streets and sidewalks. Twentieth-century New Yorkers improvised games in streets and parks, including classics like kick the can, off the wall and stickball. Preserved and documented from an NYC Parks archivist, photos from this era will make you wistful for the simplicity of urban street games.
© Paul Morris
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Paul Morris shares his digitally altered streetscapes. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
New York City is full of urban photographers, capturing streetscapes and buildings as they morph and grow and alter our neighborhoods. But very few can find a way to do this that is totally new, which is why the work of local artist Paul Morris is so refreshing. By juxtaposing his original photography with his graphic design skills, his large-scale patterns “capture and restructure elements discovered in urban landscapes to create innovative perspectives on objects found in everyday life.” His latest series focuses on the city’s biggest, and arguably most anticipated, new development–Hudson Yards. He’s also created “False Mirror” images of everywhere from the Rockaways to the Financial District. Ahead, Paul shares with 6sqft an exclusive collection of his photos and chats with us about his unique process and inspiration.
See and learn about Paul’s work
“The area seen in these views was later filled with sand from the Bay and the new circumferential highway.” 1930; via NYPL
In the curve of Brooklyn between the Narrows and the borough’s southwestern edge at Sea Gate, there is a lesser loved body of water called Gravesend Bay. The boundary of what was once Gravesend Town and is now simply Gravesend, among other nabes, was along a wetland of sandhill dunes before it became an oil-saturated trash marsh. Now, it’s home to a relatively scenic portion of the Belt Parkway, where the Verrazano Bridge emerges from around the bend or Brooklyn’s tip juts into your vision, depending on your direction.
Dated photos from the New York Public Library reveal–as old New York photos tend to– a Bay apart. In part it’s likely because the smells and oil sheens of today’s bay can’t be experienced in these vintage pics. The unimpeded openness of the water, kept from humans only by what appears to be a single giant tube, however, clearly belongs to a Brooklyn long past.
See the Bay back in time
Central Park, 1900 © Ray Simone
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Ray Simone shares vintage photographs of New York City he has lovingly restored to stunning quality. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Born-and-raised Manhattanite Ray Simone has a native knowledge of New York, as well as an intimate understanding of its past lives. When he’s not taking current photos of the city, he’s in his Williamsburg studio, restoring its past, negative by negative to shocking quality. While some negatives take under an hour to restore, the more badly damaged ones can require more than 40 hours of painstaking work, going pixel by pixel. “You can only work at something a certain amount of hours at a time,” Simone reflects, “You get tunnel vision after a while; carpal tunnel.” Ahead, 6sqft talks to Simone about his photo restoration business and his thoughts on NYC’s history and future, and we get a special look at some of his greatest restoration works.
Travel back in time
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Basia Serraty shares her photos of Ridgewood. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
While Basia Serraty admits in an essay she wrote for Ridgewood Social that, upon moving to New York from her small town in Poland, the city did not fit her expectations, she has grown to love this place nonetheless. Her photos of Ridgewood, her neighborhood since moving here in 2004, capture the quiet but colorful corners of the nabe, portraying a clear sense of life despite a general lack of people. Ahead, we talk to Basia about her journey from Poland to NYC, her work, and why she loves Ridgewood.
Stroll through Ridgewood with Basia’s photos
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Bill Hayes shares photos from his book “How New York Breaks Your Heart“. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
A writer, Guggenheim Fellow, photographer and, since 2009, a New Yorker, Bill Hayes is quite familiar with the beautiful and painful ways New York City can play with the human heart. He recently published a book of his many portraits of the city’s inhabitants, “How New York Breaks Your Heart,” showing in black and white and living color some of the city’s many faces, all very real and alive and core to this city’s aura. We spoke with Hayes, a West Village resident, about the book, the, ity and its people.
Meet Bill and see his photos
Photographer Berenice Abbott has long captured the imagination of New Yorkers. Her storied career began after fleeing Ohio for Greenwich Village in 1918 and included a stint in Paris taking portraits of 1920s heavyweights. But she is best known for her searing images of New York buildings and street life–her photograph “Nightview, New York,” taken from an upper-floor window of the Empire State Building in 1932, remains one of the most recognized images of the city. Well known is her exchange with a male supervisor, who informed Abbott that “nice girls” don’t go to the Bowery. Her reply: “Buddy, I’m not a nice girl. I’m a photographer… I go anywhere.”
Despite Abbott’s prolific career and fascinating life, there’s never been a biography to capture it all. Until now, with Julia Van Haaften’s work, “Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography.” Van Haaften is the founding curator of the New York Public Library’s photography collection. She also befriended Abbott, as the photographer approached 90, while curating a retrospective exhibition of her work in the late 1980s. (Abbott passed away in 1991 at the age of 93.)
With 6sqft, Van Haaften shares what it was like translating Abbott’s wide-ranging work and life into a biography, and the help she received from Abbott herself. From her favorite stories to her favorite photographs, Van Haaften shows why Abbott’s work has remained such a powerful lens capturing New York City to this day.
Rendering of the installation
After publishing their first account of small businesses in NYC a decade ago with their seminal book “Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York,” photographers James and Karla Murray are now ready to bring their work back to the street. As 6sqft previously reported, “the husband-and-wife team has designed an art installation for Seward Park, a wood-frame structure that will feature four nearly life-size images of Lower East Side business that have mostly disappeared–a bodega, a coffee shop/luncheonette (the recently lost Cup & Saucer), a deli (Katz’s), and a newsstand (Chung’s Candy & Soda Stand). Though the installation is part of the Art in the Parks UNIQLO Park Expressions Grant Program, there are still high costs associated with materials, fabrication, and installation, so James and Karla have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the additional funds.
6sqft’s series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Hannah La Follette Ryan shares photos from her “Subway Hands” Instagram account. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
While many street photographers have been inspired by straphangers over the years, Massachusetts- born Hannah La Follette Ryan has taken a very different approach to subway photography: focusing on riders’ hands. Her viral Instagram account, “Subway Hands,” is closing in on 20,000 followers and features nearly 1,000 photos, all shot on her iPhone, of the impossibly varied things people do with their hands on the NYC subway.
Do you spot your hands in any of the photos?
Jay Maisel is best known for the incredibly expressive stories he tells through his beautiful photography. But in recent years, he’s become perhaps just as well known for his New York City real estate story where he made the deal of the century when he sold his home, the Germania Bank Building at 190 Bowery. What he’s not at all known for, though, are the stories he tells through the hundreds of thousands of memories that fill his home and studio.
Maisel, who may appear gruff on the exterior (at 87 years-old, he still likes to shock), is actually incredibly kind and sentimental. He misses his home and all his toys that once filled the 35,000-square-foot building. Although he was initially intimidated by the size and upkeep costs of 190 Bowery, Maisel grew to love the home and raise his family there for 50 years. In 2015, he sold the building for $55 million and purchased a stately townhouse on Pacific Street in Cobble Hill for $15.5 million. (At the time, it was the most expensive townhouse sale in Brooklyn.) 6sqft sat down with Maisel and discussed his real estate coup, his move to Brooklyn (which is not “the city” in his view) and his most recent New York City photography series, entitled “Jaywalking.”
Hear from Jay and get an inside look at his life and work