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Since 1989 I have photographed the daily lives of the homeless in New York City as they sought places of security, built and decorated dwellings, created gardens, searched for food, cooked meals, cared for pets, and embellished their lives with friendship and the rituals of survival.

The photographs document the transitory homes and gardens people build out of tin, cardboard and scraps of wood in vacant lots, public parks, along rivers, under bridges and highway exit ramps, and underground in the abandoned train tunnels on New York's Upper West Side. These settlements have ranged from over a hundred dwellings in Tompkins Square Park, to a few decorated crates hidden inside the entrance of an abandoned tunnel. One settlement existed underground for over twenty-three years; another survived along the street for only a few hours. I have seen dwellings constructed with great effort destroyed in a matter of seconds by bulldozers; gardens that have taken months to nurture covered in an instant by a pile of dirt and rock. I have witnessed people cope with the ever-present threat of being truly "homeless."

The men and women I photographed also shared their stories. The web site includes their voices, selected from oral histories that I have audiotaped since 1991.

Mac's First House
Mac's First House, East River

Bernard Cooking
Demolition of Bushville

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All contents copyright (C) 2000, Margaret Morton. All rights reserved.
Revised: October 2000