top of page


If you imagine an ordinary moment 

at an intersection in ‘‘London’’, 

and there is a pause because there is a streetlight, 

and some people are stopped and others in motion, 

and some cars are stopped and others in motion; 

if you were to put that into film terms as a “freeze frame” 

and hold everything for a second, 

you would realize 

that there’s a universe there of totally disparate intentions, 

everybody going about his or her business 

in the silence of their own minds, 

with everybody else 

and the street 

and the time of day 

and the architecture 

and the quality of the light 

and the nature of the weather 

as a kind of background or field for the individual consciousness 

and the drama that it is making for itself at that moment, 

and you think about that, 

that’s what happens in the city, 

in that somehow the city can embrace and accept and accommodate 

all that disparate intention, 

at one and the same time, 

not only on that corner, 

but on thousands of corners . . . .


E.L.Doctorow, introducing Ric Burns’ New York: A Documentary

bottom of page