New York Christmas (Rizzoli, 1999)


by Mark Crosby

A little over three years ago, a big snow storm hit New York City. What began almost unnoticed by busy New Yorkers quickly turned into a blinding blizzard. And though the clatter and rumble of snow-chained salt trucks and plows would be heard through the night, it soon became apparent to all that nothing would be open the following day, and a holiday was in store for the whole of the city.

The next morning, a winter sun broke onto a cityscape transformed. Gone were the traffic noises that typify New York's frenetic thoroughfares. Gone were the dark grays of its canyons. in their place stood a New York of yesteryear, with dazzling white vistas and nothing but the sound of wind and human voices. Streets and avenues - even Fifth Avenue - were born again as trampled snow paths for bundled pedestrians and cross-country skiers. And the air was crips and smelled of wood smoke curling from brownstone fireplaces.

It was early January that year, and though Christmas and New Year's had passed, holiday lights and ornaments still decorated shop windows and townhouse doorways. For photographers like me, it was a moment not to be missed, and judging by the ranks of amateur and professional picture-takers fanning out that next morning, the event would be well recorded.

A few days later, witha more familiar New York back in place and rid of its snow (much of it gathered onto barges and taken out to sea), I went looking for a book of photographs of New York at Christmas, thinking it would be fun to own one. To my complete surprise, none could be found. There was no such book in print, I was told. No Christmas book?! New York?! Home for more than sixty years to both the Rockefeller tree and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular?! The same palce where each Thanksgiving for four generations a Macy's parade has welcomed Santa? Even the author of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" once called New York home. Here then was an irresistible opportunity.

Three years and too many photographs later, I am delighted to say that you now hold in your hands the book I had once hoped to find. I say this because its images confirm that New York is indeed the wonderfully inspiring and serendipitous place it is known to be at Christmas.