An Anxious Election

Glenn Gissler photographs boarded-up storefronts in Manhattan as political tensions run high.

Shifting Ground was an open call for visual reports about how the events of 2020 and 2021 reconfigured our relationship with both public and private space. Select entries were posted on the League’s Instagram account.

Glenn Gissler sent photos taken during election week in 2020.

He wrote:

After four painful years of the current administration, along with the trauma, stress, and fear of COVID, we finally made it to the presidential election.

The administration’s inflammatory political rhetoric prompted many merchants near my office to board up their storefronts before Election Day, preparing for violence.

The streets were eerily empty, and the fear that the closed-up storefronts both expressed and evoked was palpable. I have lived in New York City since 1984 and have seen downs and ups, hurricanes, power blackouts, poverty, prosperity, parades, demonstrations, and everything in between, but never have I seen such fear.

Most stores have since removed the plywood boards from their windows, but the toxic energy still remains.


Ted Steinberg on the development of New York City

Ted Steinberg, author of Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York (2014), attributes the development of New York City to the 300-year-old view of the city as a “limitless proposition” driven by the “growth imperative.”

Five Thousand Pound Life Video 2014