The Neighborhood

When tourists think of New York City, they often envision The Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square and other landmarks.They are missing the real New York. “The point” of the city is in the diversity of bounded lives and personal histories of people who live here. (This is something you’ll never feel in my hometown, Moscow).

If you want to experience New York, you won’t go to Liberty Island or corner of Lexington and 42nd street. The real New York exists in every block, in every fractal of crossed streets. My block is one of these side streets. It’s cramped in between 46th and 45th from south to north, and in between 2nd and 3rd from east to west.Representatives from many different places, located on this tiny territory, are my New York. This project is in memoriam of my father, Steven Seymour, who lived on 46th and 2nd between 1978 and 2014. He was a real “people person” and everyone on the block knew him and loved him. I started to shoot this project a week after he passed away and every subject shared many stories with me and grieved along with me.

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Steve, the tailor

Steve is an old-timer from the neighborhood. He has worked here for many years. Steve moved to New York from Ukraine and, little by little, brought his whole family here. Photos of his numerous grandchildren (mostly US citizens by birth, thanks to Steve) - the main decoration of his shop. All day long he listens to Russian radio and knows about Russian politics more than I do.


Jacob, the vender

Jacob, Puerto Rican by mother turns his penny in a hardware store at 2nd ave for almost a year. In his free time, Jacob practice music, he plays sax, piano, but he especially likes playing guitar because it helps him to express himself. He doesn’t have any musical education, he learnt everything by himself. 


Jean, the bartender

Jean is an Irish bartender at the Irish bar. She moved to New York eight months before this picture was shoot to study food marketing. When I came back to The Perfect Pint the same bar a month later Jean was gone, she had moved back home to Ireland. When I was leaving the bar after I took this picture, she suddenly said “Once a homeless person tried to beat me, that’s my New York experience.”


Matt, the owner of a liquor store

Matt owns the liquor store located at 2nd ave and he is, of course, from an Irish family. His mother was born in New York but moved to London couple of years ago. His grandfather Carlie worked on elevated railway line 3rd avenue El. As he told Matt, the next line 2nd avenue El was demolished in 1941 and sold to Japan that used it to mold shells. Even more intriguing, it’s possible those exact shells were used to attack Pearl Harbor.


Vasil, the doorman

Vasil was born in Transcarpathia, Ukraine and moved to New York when he was 18. He had to wait for his visa for 3 years. Vasil loves it in New York, he says that the life here in different, with no queues and coupons for sugar. He says “you don’t have to ask for permissions here.”


Bilo, the chief

Bilo (a nickname; his given name is Bulent) moved to the US from Turkey in 2000. Back home he used to be a flight attendant, in New York he studied Tourism and hotel management and finally opened his Turkish restaurant about a year ago. He makes the best baklava in the neighborhood.He says he likes action.


Marie, the launderer

Marie is 26 years old. She moved to New York from the Philippines 4 years ago and works at the laundry that she opened with her boyfriend. Marie graduated from the med school (she’s a nurse) back home, but she had to study hard to pass the exams and get her license in the US (the exam was 6 hours long!). Soon Marie will work at the hospital uptown and she’s very excited about it.

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