Note: this photo was published in a May 20, 2010 Shebayer blog, with the same title as the caption that I used on this Flickr page. It was also published in an undated (Jun 2010) blog titled "Français, vous devrez travailler plus longtemps..." And it was published in an Oct 6, 2010 blog titled "Can I add my son’s girlfriends car to my auto insurance policy?"
In 2011, the photo was published in a Jan 2, 2011 blog titled "Auto Insurance?" It was also published in an undated (early Feb 2011) blog titled "Français, vous devrez travailler plus longtemps..." And it was published in a May 18, 2011 blog titled "Travailler plus longtemps : La grande mystification du quinquennat!" It was also published in an undated (early Nov 2011) iSelect Car Insurance blog, with the same caption and a slightly garbled copy of the detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page.
Moving into 2012, the photo was published in a Jan 17, 2012 blog titled "Travel word for seniors, The Definite Guide." It was also published in a Nov 30, 2012 AARP blog titled "Spending Cuts Would Be Drastic for Some Older Adults ."
This was on the south side of 94th Street, taken from the east side of Broadway, heading north. This elderly woman was all dressed up, with a fancy set of pearls -- and sitting all alone, apparently just enjoying the afternoon sunshine. I may be completely wrong, but my guess is that she is a widow, and had been off at a church/synagogue service of some kind...
Sadly, you won't see scenes like this in the cold, dreary autumn/winter months of New York City; I've been walking along this area in mid-November 2008, for example, and the benches have all been empty. I often wonder what the elderly do during this season; do they bundle up in their warmest coats, and wait for a sunny day, so they can at least enjoy a few minutes of sunshine on the bench, or do they stay home, and just stare out the window?
In late June, I spent three afternoons walking up and down Broadway, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, from 72nd Street to Columbia University at 115th Street. My objective was to photograph the variety of people sitting on park benches along what is formally known as the "Broadway malls" -- ie., benches located on the north side and south side of the median strip that separates the uptown side of Broadway from the downtown side.
Since my travels did encompass three separate days, I saw an even wider variety than I might have seen on a single afternoon; on the other hand, the pictures all reflect a single season. At Toni's suggestion, I'm going to make a similar photo-journal in the fall, winter, and spring -- to see if there are entirely different people, or whether it's basically the same people, but wearing different clothes...
In any case, on this occasion I saw young and old, black and white, men and women, rich and poor -- students, children, retired people, widows, widowers, homeless people, construction workers, babysitters, and tourists. As is common in today's society, a remarkable number of them were chatting on cellphones; but it was refreshing to see that many of them were chatting with each other. It was also a little sad to see several people sitting alone, with a wistful, melancholy look on their face.
Most of the park benches were occupied, though a few were empty. Most of the empty benches were fairly uninteresting, but a few looked sufficiently inviting that I felt they deserved a photo of their own.
For the most part, I ignored the photo opportunities that I saw on the sidewalk as I strolled along. But there were two major exceptions, as you'll see midway through this collection: a young man with a bubble-making gadget, blowing the largest soap-bubbles I have ever seen; and a chess game between two middle-aged men. I also photographed a few of the street signs along the way -- actually, I photographed every street sign, so that I could identify (and geotag) the location of all the other photographs.
I must have looked fairly serious as I went about my picture-taking activities, for three different people asked me if I was a photographer; and two different people asked me if I liked the Nikon D300 that I was using. As for the subjects of the pictures: most didn't even realize I was photographing them, for I took advantage of a long telephoto lens to shoot them from afar. But a few did notice, and I got a couple of smiles and scowls. If any of them do happen to stumble upon the Flickr site where these pictures will live, I hope they'll feel I've treated them kindly... I love them all ...
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