Taking Photos to Change the Way We See the Bronx

Good morning. It’s Friday. We’ll look at the Bronx, as seen in photographs by people who live there. We’ll also find out why E. Jean Carroll’s lawyer says Carroll is considering another lawsuit against Donald Trump.

Everyday Bronx has been described as grass-roots storytelling that is changing the way the world sees the Bronx, one photograph at a time. It started with an Instagram account in 2014 and now has some 6,000 photographs — and an exhibition. Our colleague Melissa Guerrero, who talked with some of the photographers, explains how they are documenting life in the borough.

Kayla Beltran, 23, wanders along the nature trails in Pelham Bay Park, snapping photographs. And in February, when bold swimmers head into the water for the Bronx Polar Bears event, she heads for nearby Orchard Beach to shoot.

Tara Garcia, 51, knows the beach, too, but from a different perspective. Her mom loved to go sunbathing there — and when Garcia moved back to the Bronx after a few years in Westchester County, “little excursions” to Orchard Beach by herself turned into photo shoots.

And Edgar Santana, 44, who grew up to be a street photographer, has a photo from a childhood trip to City Island on his dad’s boat, taken long before he first picked up a camera.

What connects them is their desire to document the Bronx as they have experienced it. That has made Everyday Bronx, an Instagram account that features photos of the borough, an outlet for them.

“We really wanted to create community and conversations between other Bronxites, through the account and through the posts, each individual post,” said Rhynna M. Santos, who started running the account almost a decade ago.

The main goal, she added, was to “create a really lively online archive of the Bronx and what people are going through in the Bronx right now,” with images from people who spend time in the borough.

That furthers another goal of Everyday Bronx: combating negative stereotypes. And there is also a largely untapped opportunity. “The Bronx is a borough that is really not photographed,” Santana said, “and that’s why it’s up to us as Bronx natives and Bronxites to put the borough on the map.”

Santos, who is a photographer and a Bronxite herself, and a handful of volunteers like Beltran and Santana post submissions from Bronx residents, people who used to live there and visitors. The account is part of a larger initiative called “Everyday Projects,” which features several “Everyday” accounts from around the world. A selection of the 6,000-plus photos from the Instagram account is being exhibited at the Bronx Documentary Center through Sunday and will also be featured at the Photoville Festival in June.

Everyday Bronx combines memories with an appreciation of photography as an artistic medium made more accessible in the smartphone era.

Garcia, who works in advertising, has been taking pictures since she was in high school. “The only reason my family has any documentation of the last, I don’t know, 40-odd years is because I’ve taken my camera,” she said. Years later, she discovered that photography had always been in her blood. “I took the baton from my grandparents, who were avid photographers themselves, but I didn’t know this about them because all this stuff is locked in a closet.”

Michael Young, who works at the Bronx Documentary Center and is a contributor to the Instagram account, grew up in Brooklyn but has lived in the Bronx for 23 years. A favorite photo he took showed children playing, one of them jumping on a pogo stick. “I guess this image is a reminder of my childhood and the carefree way we used to play and just enjoy the summer,” he said.

Ed García Conde, who founded the news site Welcome2TheBronx, said that one of his favorite photographs shows a drag performer dancing on the steps of the abandoned Bronx borough courthouse on East 161st Street. “As a gay man who grew up in the South Bronx, I also have a passion for documenting the queer people of the South Bronx because I feel like they are super underrepresented,” García Conde said.

He also remembers documenting the carefree nature of salsa dancers at Puerto Rican street fairs.

“As kids, we didn’t realize that we were poor,” García Conde said. “You know, if anything, we were living very rich lives full of culture, arts and music and dance because everywhere we went that’s what was happening, and a lot of it, of course, was in response probably to the poverty that we were living, in making the best of what we had.”

Santos said she was glad that the account lets people outside of the Bronx see the borough more accurately. “But I really do this for Bronxites,” Santos said, adding that she wanted “to really give them an opportunity to revel in the specialness and in the uniqueness of our borough, and that we come from an incredible history, something that we really should be very proud of.”


It’s a mostly sunny day near the mid-80s. Expect a chance of showers late at night, with temps dropping to around the mid-60s.


In effect until Thursday (Solemnity of the Ascension).

The latest Metro news

Charge in subway killing: Daniel Penny, the 24-year-old Marine veteran who fatally choked Jordan Neely on the subway last week, is expected to appear in Manhattan Criminal Court today to face a second-degree manslaughter charge.

Santos’s stolen-check case: Representative George Santos agreed to pay a settlement of about $4,850. He accepted responsibility, and prosecutors dropped the charges.

Right to shelter weakens: New York City is temporarily suspending some of the rules related to its longstanding guarantee of shelter to anyone who needs it as officials struggle to find housing for migrants arriving from the southern border.

Weight discrimination: City Council is expected to approve a bill that adds a person’s weight to the list of characteristics that are protected from discrimination.

Vaping product fire death: A Brooklyn house fire that killed a woman, her daughter and another child was fueled by the ingredients of a homemade vaping product that the children’s father concocted and intended to sell.

Albany scandals: In a pair of unanimous decisions in cases involving defendants convicted of fraud for actions during Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration, the Supreme Court again limited federal prosecutions of public corruption.

A year after the Buffalo shooting: Court hearings, media scrums, ruined holidays — Barbara Massey-Mapps endured it all to see the white supremacist who killed her sister in a Buffalo supermarket convicted.

E. Jean Carroll may sue Trump again

E. Jean Carroll did not watch the CNN town hall with former President Donald Trump on Wednesday night. She was asleep, so she did not hear him call her claim of sexual assault in a department store dressing room “fake” and a “made-up story.”

But her lawyer sent her a transcript. She called his comments “vile” and “foul” after saying that she had read only the first paragraph. She had been “insulted by better people,” she told The Times in an interview, and was infuriated that her stylist’s 15-year-old was talking about what Trump had said. Young people “cannot listen to this balderdash and this old-timey view of women, which is a cave-man view,” she said.

Trump’s appearance on CNN came the day after a federal jury in Manhattan found him liable for sexually abusing her and liable for defaming her last year when he described her claim of assault as a “complete con job” and a “Hoax and a lie” in a post on social media.

Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, said that Carroll was considering filing a new defamation suit against Trump. The former president, answering questions from the moderator, Kaitlan Collins, referred to Carroll as a “wack job” and said the civil trial he had lost was “a rigged deal.” He also mocked Carroll, saying her accusations involved “hanky-panky in a dressing room.”

Kaplan said a decision on filing a new defamation suit would come “in the next day or so, probably.” It would be Carroll’s third lawsuit against Trump. Besides the case that Trump lost on Tuesday, Carroll has another defamation case pending. Trump has argued in that case that he cannot be sued because it pertains to comments he made in his official role as president.


Subway love

Dear Diary:

After we wove paper hearts at the Met Museum
on that cold, cold Friday night
we took the subway home.

A woman was singing a Beyoncé song
and I asked if she was Beyoncé
and she said she was.

Another woman was folding red foil paper.
I saw she was making an origami heart.
So I took her one of our woven hearts
and she gave me hers.

— Esther K. Smith

Illustrated by Agnes Lee. Send submissions here and read more Metropolitan Diary here.

Glad we could get together here. See you on Monday. — J.B.

P.S. Here’s today’s Mini Crossword and Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

Melissa Guerrero and Ed Shanahan contributed to New York Today. You can reach the team at [email protected].

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