Nightshift NYC

Nightshift NYC

Nightshift NYC

Nightshift NYC


New York is the city that never sleeps. This luminous book peels back the cover of darkness over the city as it hums along in the night, revealing a hidden world populated by the thousands of women and men who work and live the nightshift. Written with beauty and grace, Nightshift NYC weaves together cultural critique, vivid reportage, and arresting photographs to trace the inverted logic of the city at night. Russell Leigh Sharman and Cheryl Harris Sharman spent a year interviewing and shadowing fry cooks and coffee jockeys, train conductors, cab hacks, and dozens of others who keep the city running when the sun goes down. Investigating familiar places such diners and delis, they explore some less familiar ones as well--taking us on a walking tour of homelessness in Manhattan, onto a fishing boat out of Brooklyn, and into other little-known corners of the night. Traveling past the threshold of voyeurism into the lives of real people, they depict a social space entirely apart--one that is highly structured and inherently subversive. Together, these stories open a compelling view on contemporary urban life and, along the way, reveal the soul of the city itself.


The most familiar story of New York is of the city as celebrity. From its rough-and-tumble beginnings and early rise to fame to its midlife crises of fiscal failure and recent renaissance, New York City is an archipelago of public fascination. From the soaring heights of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty to the still-gaping wound of the World Trade Center, New York is the city that America consumes as greedily as any public figure, rejoicing in its triumphs, mourning with its losses, and gloating over its failures.

But there is another New York.

After the tour buses disgorge their tourists into the sleek hotels of midtown Manhattan, and after the day-dwellers lock themselves in against an accumulated fear of the night, the city slowly slouches into its own skin, revealing a vulnerability and an occasional mean streak to those who brave its darker side. This is the “other” New York, the city as bleary-eyed insomniac that replaces the manicured tourism of daylight.

At night, the city teems with sympathetic insomniacs scuttling toward islands of light in a diffuse but still living cityscape. By day, the city is populated by citizen tourists who marvel at the occasional native grumbling at the hordes of slow-footed interlopers. But by night, the city is left to those who know it best. They relish the empty sidewalks and streets . . .

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