Photo at McSorley's by Daniel Root
An East Village photographer's "bars at dawn" series has seen the light of day!
While out on early morning walks in recent years (dating to 2016), Daniel Root began taking pictures through the windows or doors of empty neighborhood bars at daybreak. The shots became part of an ongoing #nybarsatdawn project on Instagram. In the end, he shot 974 bars and walked some 1,500 miles.
Now that project in the subject of a new book, "New York Bars at Dawn," which debuted yesterday via Abbeville Press. The book includes 200 of his most compelling bar portraits, many of them in the East Village.
Nearly every day, Daniel Root sets out before sunrise to wander the streets of Manhattan with his camera. In those comparatively quiet hours, the entire city wears a different face, but Root is particularly fascinated by the scenes to be glimpsed through the windows of its bars. Empty of patrons and illuminated by an odd mix of artificial lights — neon beer ads, red EXIT signs, a single bulb above the cash register — they present a more hushed and mysterious aspect than in the busy evening hours. Nonetheless, each one — whether a dive bar, a sports bar, or a restaurant bar — still conveys an individual character, a distinct personality.
We interviewed Root about the project in 2019. Revisit that Q&A here.