Photographer Joel Meyerowitz was born in the Bronx in 1938, a time and place that conjures images of two-sewer stickball-hitters and spraying fire hydrants on hot days. In fact, though, the thirties Bronx was not yet fully built out, and a certain amount of greenery and wildlife poked through the developing city. Meyerowitz has spent his life documenting that city in multiple ways, and Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks echoes the relatively pastoral Bronx of his youth. Meyerowitz’s camera — and therefore you, the viewer — goes to dozens of places that most of us would never recognize as New York. In many of them, not a manmade object is visible; in others, there’s a hint of human presence, say in a distant building poking up hazily behind the trees. They make us grateful for previous generations’ foresight (imagine Manhattan as it was laid out in 1811, without Central Park!) and ever more firmly committed, as this generation has been, to restoring and tending what we have.
Images are on view at the Museum of the City of New York from October 9 to March 10, and in Aperture’s accompanying book.