Making the City: Selected stories from Capital New York
Gillian Reagan and Others
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A Palestinian food-cart vendor with a secret recipe and a Chinese family struggling to earn its living with a takeout restaurant in the South Bronx; an ambitious young politician with a knack for working the press and a police chief who's better at politics than his boss; a character actor trying to break into opera and a Queens rapper navigating the shoals of high art, pop stardom, and industrialized sexism; a famous woman who would challenge the supremacy of The New York Times and a self-deprecating man who would be its shining knight; the street hustles of the perennially homeless and the street photography of a fashion icon.
These are some of the characters we've covered at Capital New York over the last three years, since we began publishing from a cluster of white melamine Ikea desks in a windowless room in Soho in June 2010. The story subjects are a diverse group, but they have in common a desire to fix their fates against the roiling reality of life here. They're famous, infamous, unknown, or invisible, but they're all part of the same messy project of New York City.
This place is both hard to describe and endlessly describable. It's a city of disparate instances, and it's in the disparities that the engine of the city becomes, barely, visible.
It's a city of stories. Telling them in their specificity, and smashing them all together without an overweening concern for their comfort or compatibility, is the only real way to tell the story of New York. It's an endless project that's so rewarding because it's a project that can never go away. It's what we've tried to do with this website: To tell some of these stories, in their utter specificity, as a way of getting at the big stories that defy the keystroke.