Marine Terminal, La Guardia Airport, Queens, June 16, 1998 New York Public Library/William Meyers

Photographer William Meyers documented ordinary life outside Manhattan in the 1990s and 2000s.

In the 1990s, photographer William Meyers started leaving his home in Manhattan for the outer boroughs. He'd take the subway to random stops in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, or the ferry to Staten Island, and roam the unfamiliar streets—taking pictures.

"They are the outer boroughs of the spirit as well as of the physical city," he writes, explaining the photo series on his website. "Each image represents a certain time in a certain part of a certain city where, I have found, even in unlikely neighborhoods there are occasions for beauty."

As Meyers walked through some of these neighborhoods—Astoria, Co-Op City, Bensonhurst, and others—he photographed street scenes, cityscapes, and ordinary people going about their everyday routine.

"Most of my pictures were taken on anonymous streets where the people of the place live and go about their business; they represent the quotidian, not the spectacular," he writes.

Glendale, Queens, May 4, 2001. (New York Public Library/William Meyers)

The result of this work is the "Outer Boroughs" series. Eighty-six prints from the series that have been housed in the New York Public Library since 2008 will be on display at the 42nd Street library from May 27 to June 30. (The exhibition coincides with the publication of William Meyers’s new book: Outer Boroughs: New York Beyond Manhattan.)

Meyers, who considers himself an art photographer not a documentarian, unintentionally created a photographic record of these neighborhoods—many of which look drastically different today.

"The city I photographed no longer exists," he says in a press release for the exhibition. "However, the essence of New York has always been reinvention."

Check out some of his pictures below:

NYC Marathon, mile 20, in Mott Haven, Bronx, November 4, 2001. (New York Public Library/William Meyers)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, July 12, 2005. (New York Public Library/William Meyers)
Hunts Point Market, Bronx, November 17, 1999. (New York Public Library/William Meyers)
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, July 12, 2005. (New York Public Library/William Meyers)
Jamaica Estates, Queens, December 25, 1995. (New York Public Library/William Meyers)
Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, January 11, 2004. (New York Public Library/William Meyers)
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, June 4, 1998. (New York Public Library/William Meyers)
Pelham Gardens, Bronx, December 15, 2001. (New York Public Library/William Meyers)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    Berlin Will Freeze Rents for Five Years

    Local lawmakers agreed to one of Europe’s most radical rental laws, but it sets the stage for a battle with Germany’s national government.

  2. A photo of a Google employee on a bicycle.
    Equity

    How Far Will Google’s Billion-Dollar Bay Area Housing Plan Go?

    The single largest commitment by a private employer to address the Bay Area’s acute affordable housing crisis is unique in its focus on land redevelopment.

  3. Environment

    Paris Wants to Grow ‘Urban Forests’ at Famous Landmarks

    The city plans to fill some small but treasured sites with trees—a climate strategy that may also change the way Paris frames its architectural heritage.

  4. A photo of Madrid's Gran Via
    Environment

    Is This the End of the Road for Madrid’s Car Ban?

    With more conservative leadership moving in after elections, the Spanish capital’s pollution-fighting regulations on private vehicles may be in danger.

  5. A map showing the affordability of housing in the U.S.
    Equity

    Minimum Wage Still Can’t Pay For A Two-Bedroom Apartment Anywhere

    The 30th anniversary edition of the National Low Income Housing Coalition report, “Out of Reach,” shows that housing affordability is getting worse, not better.

×