Bond Street & 64th Street, Southwest Corner

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Do you have Avenue A and 6th Street?

Scarcely a month after I started photographing New York in Plain Sight someone stopped me on the street, asked what I was doing, and why, and then introduced himself as the publisher of a West Village free weekly newspaper — and could he interview me for the next issue?

Naturally I said yes, and we agreed to meet in a day or two for coffee at one of the local diners.

I brought along a dozen or so small prints (6" x 18") selected from the work I'd done thus far.

So we were sitting in a booth, having coffee, chatting, and looking at the prints, which I've got fanned out across the table, when the busboy came around to refill our water glasses and ask if we want more coffee.

He looked at the prints and said, "I know that corner, that's Avenue B and 5th Street — I grew up there."

Avenue B & 5th Street, Northwest Corner

So we heard a lot about Avenue B and 5th Street.

Then his boss came over looking concerned about why he'd gotten stuck at our booth, and asked us if anything was wrong.

But before either of us could answer, he glanced at the prints and asked, "do you have Avenue A and 6th Street? — I grew up there."

And at that moment I knew, just knew, that I was onto something with this project, without exactly being able to say what it was. (I'm still not sure I can say what it is.)

But everybody's from somewhere, and if they're from Manhattan, New York in Plain Sight includes the corner nearest to where they grew up — or where they met their fiance, or where their mother lives now, or where they worked when in they were in school, or ….

And someday, maybe, maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, maybe 30 years from now, they may want to see that corner as it was in the summer of 2006.

And they'll be able to.

Maybe it's really just that simple.

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