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Social media was chatting a mile a minute on Wednesday when “Humans of New York” shared their latest story on their Instagram and Facebook pages. Along with a photo a Black man in a black suit with a tan shirt and colorful tie, standing beside a Black woman wearing a dark brown fur coat, followers of the page saw a lengthy caption that was the first installment of 11. The man’s name is Bobby Love and his wife is Cheryl Love. Together, they revisited when Bobby Love, who had been living a double life, was arrested five years ago after escaping prison 30 years prior. Like Bobby Love, “Humans of New York” interviews people in various cities, primarily New York City, and shares their riveting stories on their social media platforms.

MORE: What Happened To Bobby Love? Instagram Post Revisits Fugitive Who Led Double Life For Decades

What started as a photography project in November 2010 became a social media capsule of first-hand accounts of humorous, but also gut-wrenching trials and tribulations many people have endured throughout their lives.

“The initial goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street, and create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants. Somewhere along the way, I began to interview my subjects in addition to photographing them. And alongside their portraits, I’d include quotes and short stories from their lives,” the owner Brandon Staton said on Facebook.

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“My mother came to New York from Alabama at the age of nineteen. She had nothing but a high school diploma. She almost didn’t make it. There was so much pressure because she was all alone. Later in life she came clean. She told me that she’d gotten so depressed that she turned on the gas one night. But my brother and I started crying in the crib. And she was so touched that she decided to keep going. She became a nurse at Lenox Hill hospital. She was married three times. Three sets of children. Each time her husband claimed she wouldn’t make it without him. Each time she said ‘Go on ahead.’ She taught us all the proverbs. She taught us to love ourselves. The punishments could be harsh. Sometimes she’d go at us with the extension cord. But I always knew there was a steak dinner waiting for me at the end. She was only hard on me because she wanted me to succeed, which I never did. Thirty years on the street. Twenty years addicted to crack. But she never gave up on me. Even during the darkest times, whenever I showed up, she’d open the door. She’d cook me a meal. She’d let me get warm. She’d let me shower. But she’d never give me a dime. And I always had to leave. But on the way out, she’d always say: ‘I love you Freddy, no matter what you do.’ We had ten good years together after I got clean. She’d come to some of my programs. She’d tell me how proud she was that I turned my life around. The last time I saw her, when she was lying in the hospital, with one hundred percent cancer, I kissed her forehead and told her I loved her. And she said: ‘I love you Freddy.’ Those were her last words. Two days later she passed. She didn’t wheeze, or sigh, or scream, or grunt. She just went to sleep.”

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Staton continued, “Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog. HONY now has over twenty million followers on social media, and provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers on the streets of New York City. Over the past five years, it has also expanded to feature stories from over twenty different countries. The work is also featured in two bestselling books: Humans of New York and Humans of New York: Stories.”

“Humans of New York” is also responsible for familiarizing many with a woman named Tanqueray, who detailed her experience as a stripper in New York during the 1970s. The story, which went viral almost instantaneously, candidly and unapologetically spoke on her life as a dancer working in mob-controlled clubs. “My stripper name was Tanqueray. Back in the seventies I was the only black girl making white girl money. I danced in so many mob clubs that I learned Italian. Black girls weren’t even allowed in some of these places,” she explained.

The page shares both long and short stories of its’ subjects. Some are riddled with suspenseful cliff hangers, as stories are released in installments.

The photos and captions from “Humans of New York” were also developed into a book in October 2013 and spent 31 weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list. A second book was released in October 2015.


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