Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn

In these years of pandemic and social distancing, wandering in a vast cemetery has become more than ever before a peaceful and contemplative activity. Some come to visit relatives’ graves, some to learn about the historic battle of the American Revolution that took place here, some to visit the graves of famous New Yorkers like Leonard Bernstein or Jean-Michel Basquiat. Others bring binoculars and look for birds, or admire the beautiful trees, or simply walk among the permanent residents of this unique place.

An angel watches over the graves of the Dennis family

She weeps for as long as the stone lasts

A Civil War veteran’s grave

Standing tall on a pedestal, she gazes over New York Harbor

A rare Henslow’s Sparrow visited the cemetery and attracted birders from all over the city.

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December 31, 2021

New iPhone, same pandemic. New York City on the second pandemic New Year’s Eve

It won’t end until there are vaccinations in every country in the world.
Masked passengers on a crosstown bus
A pop-up Covid testing site on Broadway

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2021: a selective review

We are about to end the second year of the pandemic. We started the year with new vaccines, a gradual return to work, and grounds for optimism. As the year unfolded, Covid case rates went down in New York City and there were signs of a new normal, with some of our treasured public rituals and ceremonies taking place again. We were so happy on Thanksgiving, but on the next day we found out about the Omicron variant and we are upended again. As this year of emotional turmoil reaches its conclusion, let us all hope for a better 2022.

January: a discarded mask in a bare tree in Central Park

February: No one is having pizza in the snow at Sal and Carmine’s pizzeria on Broadway and 102nd Street. Outdoor dining was enjoyable in the good weather, but by February there were few customers.

February: a weekend snow day brought people to Central Park to play. For one day, everyone enjoyed the beautiful city covered in snow and seemingly free of care.

April: Museums like the Museum of Natural History reopened, tentatively, with masks and social distancing.

May: with vaccines widely available, the CDC advised that vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks on the street.

May: like many restaurants, the Mexican Festival Restaurant on Broadway and 102nd Street failed to survive the prolonged shutdown.

May: closed storefronts on every block, signs of the damaged economy and the despair of people who lost their livelihoods

June: Masks again, with children still not eligible for vaccines.

July: people could sit on the beaches in the heat, but no lifeguards were on duty.

September: the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks was remembered at the Firemen’s Memorial on Riverside Drive

October: Halloween almost looked normal, if you could overlook the restaurant’s sidewalk shed erected for outdoor dining.

November: the New York Marathon returned to the streets after the 2020 cancellation and joyous people welcomed the runners on Fifth Avenue near the 24 mile mark.

November: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was open to the public again with giant balloons greeted by enthusiastic crowds. It was only one day later when we found out about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and its dangerous spread throughout the world.

December 5: Christmas shopping on Fifth Avenue, with masks

December 19: a line of people waiting for two hours to get a Covid test at an urgent care on Broadway.

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Birds of 2021

As the second pandemic year comes to a close, here is a selection of the birds seen in 2021: whether common or rare, they are the pulse of our natural environment and the unwitting repository of our hopes for the future.

In January 2021, a Snowy Owl landed on the third base line of a ballfield in Central Park, the first sighting of this bird in Manhattan since the 19th century. The bird was immediately mobbed by crows trying to drive her away and photographed by a crowd of birders responding almost as quickly to alerts on social media.

January 2021: A Red-tailed Hawk perched in Central Park, waiting patiently for a squirrel or small bird.

January 2021: A male Northern Cardinal comes to a woman’s hand for seeds in Central Park.

January 2021: a male Wood Duck in Central Park

February 2021: a female Common Merganser in the Central Park Reservoir swimming through reflections of buildings on Fifth Avenue that complement her plumage

May 2021: in the height of the spring migration season, a Cape May warbler fed on nectar from cotoneaster blossoms in Central Park. The sticky nectar is visible on its beak.

May 2021: American Robins have already fledged but are still dependent on their parents for food (2 photos).

May 2021: a Barn Swallow singing in Central Park

July 2021: An American Oystercatcher unafraid of beachgoers in Fort Tilden, Queens

August 2021: a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird feeding in the garden at Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan

October 2021: Double-crested Cormorants on pilings in Cape May, New Jersey

October 2021: an Eastern Phoebe sits on a bush watching for insects to catch on the wing

November 2021: An American Robin with a deformed beak feeds on hawthorn berries in Central Park

December 2021: the cycle of life. A Red-tailed Hawk guards the squirrel it caught in Central Park

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

The beloved annual tradition returned this year after a suspension in 2019 due to the pandemic. It was a joy to see people enjoying themselves in the streets again.

Goku, an anime superhero, flying over Central Park West

Baby Yoda

The balloons are enormous, like the Sponge Bob balloon at rear which is almost 3 stories tall

Sonic the Hedgehog

The buildings on Central Park West are reflected in the instruments of this high school marching band from Centerville, Ohio


They spotted the singer Kelly Rowland and they were overjoyed

Papa Smurf, the Happy Hippo, and the Pillsbury Doughboy make their way down Central Park West

Enjoying the parade outside Central Park

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A New York City tradition returns

Inflating the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons on the streets surrounding the American Museum of Natural History is a daylong event that delights both children and adults. Canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic, this year it was open to the public again and brought a sense of fun and celebration to a weary city. Proof of vaccination against Covid was required for entry, mask wearing was encouraged, and security was tight.

Once fully inflated, the balloons are held down with nets and sandbags.

The quintessential turkey awaits the start of the parade

The Jolly Green Giant

There’s a Tyrannosaurus rex inside the American Museum of Natural History just inside that door.

Baby Yoda on West 81st Street

Inflating a balloon with helium. A large crew works all day to prepare and secure the balloons.


Sonic the Hedgehog inflated and ready to go

Gary, the snail from SpongeBob SquarePants, and a Macy’s crew member showing the scale. The man is well over 6 feet tall.

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New York Marathon 2021

The 50th running of the New York Marathon brought a return of exhilaration and joy to the streets of New York City and a feeling of hope that, at last, the worst of the pandemic is behind us.

The three leaders of the pro women’s division near the 24 mile mark on Fifth Avenue. Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya (right) went on to win.

Albert Korir of Kenya won the men’s division.

Shalane Flanagan, winner of the 2017 New York Marathon, ran 6 marathons in 6 weeks at the age of 40. In 2017 she was the first American woman to win since 1977.

She made her own sign.

Chloe tracked her boyfriend Austin and reacted with joy when she spotted him on Fifth Avenue.

Some of the pack running down Fifth Avenue at a respectable 3:10 pace.

Determined to finish, but it hurts.

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Halloween 2021

Canceled in 2021, Halloween celebrations are back again in New York City this year. In these scenes on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, you could almost forget the pandemic.

Siblings on Broadway

There’s a kid inside that dinosaur

Dumbledore, RBG, and their children

Stylish skeleton

Halloween is not just for children

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Firemens Memorial, September 11, 2021

On the 20th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, the Fire Department of New York held a service at the Firemens Memorial on Riverside Drive. The ceremony began with a reading of the names of the fallen firefighters, many with posthumous promotions. A silver fire bell rang after each name. After a benediction, the firefighters saluted and the Marine Corps Band and the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums played. Emotions have become less raw over the years since the terrorist attack, but the city’s respect and reverence for the firefighters has never diminished.

Listening to the roll call of the names

Firefighters lined many blocks of Riverside Drive at the memorial service

The FDNY Chaplain waiting to give the benediction

Members of the Marine Corps Band, too young to remember 9/11

One who remembers, struggling to contain his emotions

The Marine Corps Band performed during the ceremony

The FDNY Emerald Society played Amazing Grace

The salute to the fallen

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A Portfolio of Birds

During the pandemic, in 2020, many people were drawn to birds and birdwatching. Suddenly and with almost no warning we were torn from our families, our friends, our jobs, and all of our social and recreational activities. Aside from staying indoors, the only safe activity seemed to be visiting parks or other outdoor spaces, distant from other people. There, we could enjoy the sight and sounds of beautiful birds that seemed to possess all of the freedoms that we had lost.

Red-Tailed Hawk in Riverside Park, first bird photograph during lockdown
A Barred Owl in Central Park, swiveling her head almost 180 degrees to preen the feathers on her back.
A male Bufflehead emerging from a dive in the Central Park Reservoir
A Snowy Owl on Jones Beach, Long Island
A Great Blue Heron, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, New York
A Northern Cardinal eating seeds from a woman’s hand in Central Park
Male Northern Shoveler, Central Park
Male Wood Duck in breeding plumage, Central Park
Male Wood Duck, Central Park
Male Wood Duck, Central Park

Tufted Titmouse eating from a woman’s hand on a snowy day, Central Park
A Dark-Eyed Junco on a snowy day in Central Park, feathers fluffed out to keep warm
Red-Tailed Hawk with prey, Central Park
Female Northern Cardinal in the snow, Central Park
Great Blue Heron looking for fish in Central Park
Eastern Meadowlark, Croton Point Park, New York
Female Red-Breasted Merganser, Central Park
Mute Swan, Central Park
Female Hooded Merganser, Central Park
Male Hooded Merganser, Central Park
Black and White Warbler, Central Park
Cape May Warbler, Central Park
Barn Swallow singing, Central Park
White-Breasted Nuthatch, Central Park
Cedar Waxwings bathing, Central Park
Black-Crowned Night Heron, Central Park
Great Egret, Central Park
Cedar Waxwing, Central Park
American Oystercatcher, Fort Tilden Beach, NY
Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, Fort Tryon Park, New York

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