In November 2006, I began photographing Manhattan’s sidewalk newsstand kiosks. After seven years living in New York, I suddenly started to pay attention to this ingrained fixture of the city streetscape. I quickly became seduced by the newsstands’ appearance, by the visual sensation of repetitive patterns, the rows, stacks and piles of newspapers, magazines, cigarettes, lotto tickets, candy, gum and beverages.
As fate would have it, a few weeks after I started, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a $1 billion contract with Cemusa, Inc., to install standardized bus shelters, public toilets, and newsstands to “unify the look and feel of New York City’s street furniture.” My interest became a quest, and over the next five years I photographed all 242 newsstands in the borough. Today only a handful remain standing and will soon be gone.
The loss of the newsstands represents for me the end of an era, the what-was that would never be again. Making these photographs has been a means to comment on the larger trend in which large corporations have replaced family businesses, what has been called the mallification of the city. The photographs lessen the loss, preserving the past so it can in some way live on.