“New York in the 1980s differed in two fundamental ways from the New York of today. Firstly, 1980s-era New York was a riskier, dirtier, tenser, more dangerous and chaotic place. Secondly, 1980s-era New York had a sense of openness and freedom that was lost following 9/11 and most likely will never be regained. The danger in mourning this loss of freedom, however, is to ignore the human cost of the edginess and riskiness of that era. Those who look at my images of the South Bronx and Bushwick with nostalgia were most certainly not those who were growing up there during that time.
New York is such an enormous and complex place that one must hesitate before attempting to explain the forces that have shaped it over the past thirty years. My photos can tell this story better than I can. New York is not one city. It is—and always has been—a collection of hundreds of neighbourhoods and each of these neighbourhoods has its own delicate social fabric. One cannot know New York—or understand New York—without exploring all five boroughs. Although I have explored the city more than most, I can still find plenty of places that I’ve never encountered before – places that are new to me, and surprising. One can never know it all! Even if one tried, a neighbourhood would be likely to change by the time one got around to visiting it again. But I do know that, as long as I’m around, I’ll be there—with my camera—to witness and record the changes in this remarkable city.” Steven Siegel