An Irish American in Little Poland

Hughie Reid sitting in the front room of his funeral parlor (Photo: Aleksandra Mencel/NY City Lens).

Hughie Reid loves money. That’s why he went into the funeral business. Becoming an undertaker was not exactly a life-long vocational dream. Reid, now 86, says that as a kid growing up in Greenpoint, Brooklyn what he really wanted was to own a German delicatessen like Fred O.’s, the store he worked at every morning […]

Education Helps Young Adults Lift Themselves out of Poverty


Danielle Duval, 23, lives in a shelter and depends on food stamps and supplemental security income to get by. But she said she is trying to put her life together through education. Her first goal: to pass the General Educational Development (GED) test. She’s getting help—at the Henry Street Settlement, a social service agency on […]

Polish Greenpoint’s Iconic Kiszka


The red awning reads “KISZKA” in big white letters; directly beneath, the words “HOME MADE COLD CUTS” flap in the breeze.  Faded images of different meats displayed in the shop’s window, each labeled by name, serve as a quick lesson in Polish protein. “What kind of kielbasa do you want?” a blonde woman on a […]

Surfers Honor Their Roots at Rockaway Beach Surf Club


If you closed your eyes to take in the onshore salt air and the long riffs and soft ukulele of surf music, you’d think yourself in Hawaii or San Diego or Venice Beach, not a bar in New York City. That is, until the A train screeched directly above and a jet outbound from JFK, […]

Change for the Greener for a Few Bronx Sixth-Graders

Stacy, another sixth-grader at the new Highbridge Green School said her favorite subjects are reading and writing. (Hilary Brueck/ NY City Lens)

At Jose Gonzalez’s house, an early riser is antsy to go to school. “I’ve never seen my child waking up so early,” Gonzalez said. “At 6:20, he’s sitting on the chair, waiting for me to take him to school.” Never mind that the 11-year-old doesn’t have to leave the house for another hour and a […]

Red Hook Grain Silos Play Host to a Music Festival


The hulking Red Hook Grain Terminal has loomed over the mouth of the Gowanus Canal since 1922. Following the decline of the industry it was built to support, its concrete silos have been abandoned for nearly half a century, a relic of Brooklyn’s industrial past. One Saturday in late September, however, music throbbed from within […]

Grimy Greenpoint: The Neighborhood Calls for Another Cleanup


  New cafes, boutiques, and trendy restaurants popping up in Greenpoint lure young professionals to hop on the G train and travel to this North Brooklyn neighborhood.  But while the area looks more polished than in years past, it’s far from clean; trash spills over garbage cans on to the sidewalks and graffiti decorates many of […]

At Center of Contentious Jewish Ritual, Chickens


  On Sept. 16, two Mondays ago, Rina Deych planned to hold a peaceful vigil in Borough Park, Brooklyn, to protest an obscure Jewish ritual called Kapparot. She gathered 16 activists and lined the sidewalk. Soon, she was surrounded by a mob. Young boys, their heads covered by yarmulkes and faces framed by curled payos, […]

On the Twelfth Anniversary of 9/11, Skeptics Continue to Blame the Government


For all Americans, the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001 is a day of remembrance and reverence, but for some it is also an opportunity to share what they think really happened on that tragic morning. Kerry Ryan, a truck driver from Chicago in his mid 60s, traveled to New York City for the 12th anniversary […]

On the Campaign Trail: Primary Day 2013 in the Five Boroughs.

Bill de Blasio poses for a photograph with a supporter. (Photo: Akin Oyedele/ NY City Lens)

  From fights for local City Council races to glimpses of candidates for Mayor, politicians hit the sidewalks the second tuesday of September for the New York City primary, hoping to capture a few last-minute votes. NY City Lens reporters took to the streets in all five boroughs to track down campaign workers and candidates. […]

Art Therapy Helps New Yorkers Cope with Trauma from 9/11

Ronalda Nicholas was one of about a dozen World Trade Center Environmental Health Center's art therapy patients whose work was featured in a 9/11 memorial art at Bellevue Hospital.

  Ronalda Nicholas stood next to her mixed-media collage. On it, flames constructed from yellow, red, orange and black paper engulf two gray towers. Dark colors shaped like binoculars, a hand and eyes obscure a bright blue sky and glowing sun. Nicholas, who said she has had no professional art training, said the image took […]

A Vicious Circle of Low Voter Turnout in the South Bronx

Polling Station for election district 50/84 at P.S. 62 in South Bronx.

It’s Primary Day, but not one campaign flyer is posted in the four-block radius of election district 50/84 in the South Bronx. A few blocks away, four campaign workers line the block in front of a polling place, but no one lines up to vote. The corner of Kelly Street and Avenue St. John is […]

A New Citizen Celebrates Democracy by Working at the Polls


  The polling sites were understaffed. Turnout had been low. The auditorium filled with voting machines felt dry and stuffy. One had to wonder why the door clerk at PS 179 in Kensington, Brooklyn was so conspicuously peppy on Tuesday, primary elections day. “It’s my first election!” Revaz Tatarishvili, 54, exclaimed, his eyebrows raised and […]

Campaign Canvassers Plug Candidates, Sway Primary Voters

Will Franklin with Stringer Campaign materials

  Across from P.S.3, on the corner of Hudson and Christopher Streets, April King approached pedestrians politely. “If you haven’t voted, vote for Gale, please,” King said, as she handed out pamphlets. Dressed plainly, King, 72, wore a name tag and a Gale Brewer button pinned to the right side of her shirt. Brewer was […]

Candidates Solicit Staten Islanders in Last Ditch Effort for Votes

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  Cathy Guerriero, a Democratic candidate for public advocate, greeted commuters Tuesday morning at the St. George Terminal on Staten Island as they left the ferry that brought them from Manhattan free of charge. “Don’t forget to vote for Guerriero,” a member of her campaign team shouted repeatedly, taking breaks when all the passengers in […]

Sewing circle gives city shelter animals comfort, love


It’s not hard to find Jennifer Halpern’s apartment in the Upper East Side once off the elevator. Just follow the buzzing of the sewing machines, or the various volunteers carrying stockpiles of cloth. Each month, Halpern and her team meet to create pet beds for city shelter animals. The group sews, knits, and even crochets […]

“Rhee, Rhee, Rhee, Get Out of NYC”

Protester holding a sign saying "Radical Right Winger" outside the Cornell Club on Tuesday Night. Photo: Mohamed Al-Shaaban/NY City Lens

  As many New Yorkers rushed home to escape the 30 degree weather Tuesday night, Juan Pagan stood on the sidewalk on 42ndstreet between Madison and Fifth Avenue, chanting in anger.  “My daughter had  a few more credits! She closed the school down, she ruined it for my daughter,” yelled Pagan. The target of Pagan’s […]

In Search of a Character

Kilgannon pauses for a second outside Harry Theodore's apartment building. Photo: Bethan McKernan/NY City Lens

Corey Kilgannon used his knuckles to rap out a tune on the door of a first floor apartment near Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. “Harry!” he called, to no answer. As other residents appeared in the hallway of the building, Kilgannon peppered them with inquiries. But no one knew whether Harry Theodore was still […]

SLIDESHOW: Bronx Charity Delivers Holiday Gifts, Food and Cheer To Shelter For The Homeless In Queens


On January 5, 2013, the Bronx-based charity Manna of Life sent teams of volunteers to spend the day with residents of the Saratoga Family Inn in Queens. Erbin Cobian, founder and President of Manna, speaks about the experience. Slideshow: Manna of Life Visit on Jan. 5, 2013 from Jefferson Mok on Vimeo.

VIDEO: Bernardo Palombo’s Latin Roots And Creative Energies Find Full Expression At El Taller Americano On The Upper West Side


Philip Glass, Pete Seeger, Mercedes Sosa and…Sesame Street? They have something in common. They were all deeply influenced by the music of Bernardo Palombo. Jefferson Mok reports. VIDEO:ProfilePalombo from NY City Lens on Vimeo.

SLIDESHOW: Getting to Know Brooklyn’s Local Businesses: The Meat Hook


Butcher James Lumm talks New York City Lens through his job at the Meat Hook and discusses the growing demand in Williamsburg for Organic, hand prepared meat. Amelia Martyn-Hemphill reports.   Meat Hook – AMH_AudioSlideshow from Amelia Martyn-Hemphill on Vimeo.

Thanksgiving at the Church of The Holy Trinity Homeless Shelter

One man's Thanksgiving dinner at the shelter. Thomas Williams, the shelter's monitor, said the food that night was excellent.

Anthony Womack stuck out among the men he dined with last Thursday evening. He wore a vertically-striped blue and white shirt buttoned to the top, a patterned tie, black vest, along with creaseless black pants. He may have looked like he could fit in on Wall Street, but Womack spent his Thanksgiving in a homeless […]

The High Line: Where Art, History, and Public Space Collide

Over the decades, local activists successfully convinced City Council to refrain from demolishing the structure, and to support their efforts to develop it instead as a public park.

Few places in the city exemplify how earnestly Manhattan tries to develop harmony with nature. Yes, there’s Central Park, but that’s its own beast entirely, and buildings just hug it. The High Line, a former elevated freight line stretching multiple districts, literally encases nature with a concrete counterpart. Apartments and other buildings stand just feet […]

Jocelyne Sambira Promotes A Different Vision Of Life in Africa

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On the 12th floor of the United Nations building on the east side of midtown Manhattan, Jocelyne Sambira taps away at her computer on an article about the Somali disaspora. She moved a world away for this opportunity, away from Burundi, the tiny verdant East African nation of nine million she calls home. In her […]