By: Thorsten Overgaard. December 4, 2013. Edited December 19, 2015
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This is the story on how I rescued New York
Or perhaps ... not really. Because when it comes to snow, New York seems to be beyond rescue, which I witnessed from first row during Christmas and New Year 2010.
Me and my three kids stayed in New York for three weeks. Officially to babysit a friends cat, more to the point to have some alone time in the Big Apple.
During the late afternoon of December 26th, 2010 the weather turned into heavy snow, and by 9 PM nothing really worked anymore. From our window two floors above 2nd Avenue, we witnessed in astonishment how the traffic lessened down to a few helpless taxis that couldn't really manouvre in the show. Not the windshield-wipers or the tires seemed to have been designed for it.
My daughter Robin looking out the window down at 2nd Avenue in New york.
The reason the view was ironic to us was that in Denmark, where we come from, this type of weather would hardly affect the traffic. The city would have sent out trucks with salt early afternoon to avoid the roads to freeze to ice, and a constant army of trucks would continue all evening and night to keep the roads nice and clear for the morning traffic to occur. It would appear as if it had only drizzled.
Not so in New York. For Vikings from a small country about the same size of New York, it felt like a surreal David and Goliath moment. At least in some regards we are superior to this impressive city that never sleeps.
In Norway, further North of Denmark in Scandinavia, they deal with six foot snowstorms with the same ease as a New Yorker sweeps the street on a summer day.
We went outside to seize the chaos that the news early on named "Blizzard Slams U.S. East Coast" with live Breaking News broadcasts. I shot a series of images for the news agencies of people fighting hopeless fights against the snow with umbrellas that soon folded under the incompetent use, and taxis trying to clear the windshield with shovels.
On 10th Street I saw some interesting light and shadows, and a much less dramatic view. I composed the street and waited for a person to walk closer and into my focus, and then took two-three images in a row. The black and white version that I kept is the "NEW YORK BLIZZARD 2010" image that is now part of The Salzburg Collection that was on display in 2011 in the best-selling exhibition at the Leica Galerie Salzburg.
By midnight it had turned into a breaking news and entertainment event "Blizzard Slams U.S. East Coast" in the media and amongst people on the street. So I did a series of photos for Getty Images (that I worked with then) as well by midnight. This image is part of The Salzburg Collection that you can buy with 50% discount currently (see below).
The seriousness of it all hit us about a week later when a new snowstorm was under way. The City of New York had excused for being unprepared for the snow and not dealing with it. So now that a new and less strong snowstorm was under way, they promised to be alert. A couple of days before we were to fly out of JFK half the flights were cancelled due to two inches of snow!
But luckily the day we had planned to fly home to the little Kingdom of Denmark, everything was normal.
For more on the three weeks in New York, read my Story Behind That Picture: "Coffee to Go".