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Eugene Jarecki, Director, b. 1969

“That wasn't the New York I was raised to anticipate.”

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I remember when the Tall Ships came down the Hudson in ’76. I tried to jump over a fence at what was then Battery Park. It wasn’t Battery Park City yet, it was only a park—really just a chicken-wire fence that you had to jump over into what was basically a dusty lot. I got caught on the fence and scraped my butt, and I was in agony the whole afternoon.

I always looked at New York as that place where my grandfather had been a young person. I had an incredibly folkloric love not only of New York for all of its grandeur but also New York for the very small, nuanced human stories that it has come to symbolize for the world. I felt like I was the offspring of one of those stories. As a kid, my grandfather had worked for his father—going across the Brooklyn Bridge guiding a horse, because his father had a concession where they would bring syrup sodas. One of the things that broke my heart about New York over time is to watch the transformation of Manhattan to the point where Manhattan’s really not an island where poor people can live anymore. That wasn’t the New York I was raised to anticipate.


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