Photography’s longtime love affair with New York City has typically been centered on Manhattan, rather than on any of the city’s four other boroughs, the “outer boroughs.” For nearly two decades, between 1990 and 2008, William Meyers sought to correct this imbalance by taking his camera to overlooked and underexplored locations in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. The photographs in this exhibition represent Meyers’s selection of images from that project, printed as a portfolio and acquired by The New York Public Library in 2008. Organized visually rather than thematically or geographically, the images are meant to be encountered as the photographer did himself—“as a curious pedestrian willing to be surprised as he wanders the streets and boulevards of his city.” The photographs, the earliest of which were taken twenty-five years ago, also stand as visual reminders of New York City’s constant evolution. “The city I photographed,” says Meyers, “has been replaced by a much more vibrant one.”
The exhibition complements the Library’s presentation of Public Eye: 175 Years of Sharing Photography, currently on view in Gottesman Hall on the first floor, and coincides with the publication of William Meyers’s new book, Outer Boroughs: New York Beyond Manhattan.