Concrete Flowers

While the eyes of America are diverted by the need for media flavored chewing gum, faux celebrity and egocentric politicians who dance and posture like drunken lemmings on the edge of a fiscal cliff, the lost and the broken take root on the sidewalks of New York like unwanted urban weeds that force themselves through the cracks in the concrete.

Tonight in New York City, more than 50,000 people will sleep on the streets or in emergency shelters.  Below are five of them.

'Window Shopper' 55th Street and Lexington Ave

‘Window Shopper’ 55th Street and Lexington Ave

'The Wheels on the Bus' 37th Street and 9th Avenue

‘The Wheels on the Bus’ 37th Street and 9th Avenue

'Homes Fit for Heroes, Heroes Fit for Homes' 86th Street and 2nd Avenue

‘Homes Fit for Heroes, Heroes Fit for Homes’ 86th Street and 2nd Avenue

'Establishing Communications' 86th Street and Lexington Avenue

‘Establishing Communications’ 86th Street and Lexington Avenue

'Doorman' 86th Street and Lexington Avenue

‘Doorman’ 86th Street and Lexington Avenue

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28 thoughts on “Concrete Flowers

  1. There seems to be no end in sight. It just keeps getting worse. What a heartless, cruel bunch of folks we have in charge. Great images and reminders as usual.

  2. Hard to actually like the post, but thanks for keeping us aware. Its been a brutal economy and many are getting left behind in all kinds of ways.

  3. 50,000 in New York city alone? That is a shocking statistic. They are like flowers in a way, going on, or trying to, in spite of everything. This is very moving, Anton.

    • Even more shocking is that 21,000 children are included in that statistic. There will be a mayoral election in New York sometime in November. I doubt that the homeless will be on any candidates agenda and whoever wins will be another egotist suffering from political glaucoma when it comes to the lost and the unfortunate. Thanks for the comment Karen.

  4. I just spent last Sunday photographing our local medical outreach event. People trying to get health care and dental work in a high school gym. I’m not sure who are more invisible, the city homeless or the rural poor?

    Richest country on earth, and this is what we do.

  5. Good to be brought up short by another of your great series on the ‘homeless problem’. As someone who doesn’t go into the city any more than necessary it’s easy to forget them. We have thick snow and strong icy winds here in Yorkshire this morning which looks quite beautiful to me from the window of my little central heated flat. God knows what people on the street are thinking, it they survive to think anything at all. We could at least offer them food, if only with the millions of tons of food we collectively throw away every year. Especially disgraceful is the Iraq vet who’s offering to work – there must be one of the passers by who could offer him something. I have in the past worked with homeless people (editing a ‘street paper’) and you’ve made me think that I should be trying to do something about it again rather than just commenting on it. Prompted by your latest post, I’ll be giving it some thought.

    • Regardless of how cold it gets (and NY gets very, very cold I promise you) a great many homeless people would rather take their chances of survival in a frozen doorway or on a warm(ish) subway vent than spend a night in a New York emergency shelter. The majority of these places are brutally Dickensian where violence, abuse and robbery are part of the experience. I agree that more people should help in any way they can but I fear that the more the public do to help the less the authorities will feel that they need to get off their overfed backsides and sort it out. A real dilemma. Thank you, as always, for your great comment.

    • Surprisingly, the homeless are allowed to vote in all 50 states. Unfortunately, the requirements to register are so complex that most don’t bother. You can register a park bench, shelter or street corner as your ‘home’ but you have to have lived there for 30 continuous days before the voting date. Not much good if the Police keep moving you on (and they do) You are also required to submit a postal address? The people who make the rules have a very tentative grasp on the reality of living on the streets. But hey, they go home to a fire, a feast and a family. Job done! Thanks for taking the time to comment Richard.

  6. Thanks so much for highlighting, as always, a side of life that must be addressed for the sakes of all those in need… With grace and sensitivity. “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” -MLK Jr.

  7. Powerful words. Powerful images. I think you are right. It will get worse before it gets better … a great deal worse and I wonder if I won’t be one of those people on one of those streets you photograph.

  8. Reblogged this on SERENDIPITY and commented:
    I am haunted by these images. Even more haunted by the spectre of finding that I am one of the people in the picture. Times are hard and likely to get worse … much worse … before they get better.

    • We can only guess what brought this man to his present situation. Unfortunately, there are far more psychological casualties of war (most of them remain an invisible statistic, uncounted and untreated) than the dead and the maimed. Left with nothing after giving everything, and let’s be honest, there is no bigger sacrifice than putting your very existence on the line for the well being of your country. Sadly it has been repeated throughout history and will continue to be. Thanks for the comment Allan.

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