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.
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.
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.