TOMPKINS SQUARE, NYC

I took this photograph at 6:30 am right after a big snowstorm. In 1976 Tompkins Square was a grubby park that straddled Avenues A and B on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and I’d been photographing it for a couple of years, trying to capture the comic and edgy liveliness of the folks who spent time there. However, a deep snowfall and the sweet silence of an early morning changed everything. The park as I knew it, with its muddy tracts and soiled paths, had vanished, and in its place was a landscape as elegant and pristine as an English garden. Tompkins Square was unexpectedly like a fairly tale in which a homely servant puts on new clothes, magical clothes, and transforms into a beautiful young maiden. And as if to underscore the beauty of this delightful alteration, a pigeon suddenly spread his wings at the exact moment I took my photograph. “Wow,” I said, as I snapped the shutter.

 
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